Imam Ousted From Rome Mosque After Calling for a "Holy War"

Had Called for "Destruction of the Enemies of Islam"

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ROME, JUNE 16, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Islamic Cultural Center of Rome ousted the imam from the city's Great Mosque after he urged the faithful in a sermon to "destroy the enemies of Islam."



On June 6, Abdel-Samie Mahmoud Ibrahim Moussa urged the faithful to mobilize to "ensure the victory of the nation of Islam everywhere in the world," the Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported the following day.

Giuseppe Pisanu, the Italian Minister of the Interior, reacted by saying the country's 215 mosques "must be totally freed from preachers of violence, of those who recruit for the 'holy war,' and of agents of foreign interests in Italy."

The Interior Minister, who promotes the establishment of an "Italian Islam" which can dialogue with other institutions in the country, added: "I am sure that the leading authorities of the Rome mosque will be able to clarify the situation."

Last Friday, two days after Pisanu's statements, a public announcement was made that the imam, a 32-year-old Egyptian had been removed. He had been living in Italy for five years.

A new imam is expected to be named in about a week. The decision will be made by the faithful who frequent the mosque; they come from many countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Egypt.

According to an agreement mentioned by the newspaper Avvenire, the grand imam of the mosque of Rome must be Egyptian, since the mosque has a special relation with the Islamic University of Al Azhar in Cairo. The mosque's capacity for 2,000 people makes it one of the largest in Europe.