Italy: Say no to Islamophobia!

Italy: Say no to Islamophobia!

Villa Aurora University, Italy. (L. Zagara)

They all said it together as Christians, Muslims and Jews in Florence, at the National Conference called, "Stop prejudice".

November 09, 2015 | Florence, Italy. | Notizie Avventiste, CD EUDNEWS.

A big step forward in the fight against stereotypes took place in Florence on October 25, during the 2nd "Stop prejudice" National Conference, a conference against Islamophobia in Italy. An entire day dedicated to reflecting on the difficulties faced by Muslim communities in our country due to prejudice and information given which is not always correct. 

The event was held at the Adventist multipurpose center and was organized by the Adventist Church, RVS Radio, the International Association of Defense for Religious Liberty (AIDLR), the Biblical Institute of "Villa Aurora", and sponsored by the City of Florence and the Adventist church contribution - “8xmille”.

There were many participants in the different programs but the conference also reached the homes of internet users, thanks to live television streaming over Adventist Hope Channel Italy. The organizers were satisfied not only for the initiatives but also for possible future implications.

To talk about the event, Notizie Avventiste met with Dora Bognandi, AIDLR secretary and one of the organizers of the day.

Notizie Avventiste: Why a conference on Islamophobia in Italy?

Dora Bognandi: This conference is part of a Florence RVS Radio project. Every year we focus on a prejudice, for example: last year, we talked about disability, this year Islam. The slogan chosen is "Stop Prejudice". Why did we choose this theme? Because Muslims are a religious minority, the media tends to put them in a negative light almost always associated with violence or terrorism, contributing to the common perception that all Muslims are dangerous, and because prejudice against Muslims turns into hatred against immigrants in general.

A.N.: Many voices were heard on the day of the Conference: Catholics, Protestants, Evangelicals, Muslims and Jews. What major issues were discussed? 

D.B.: Yes, the conference was very well attended and everyone was emotionally involved. We talked about the need of facts before making any decisions; the need to rediscover the compassion which binds us together, with no rights denied, the need for cooperation and the importance of accepting problems that do exist.

N.A.: Dialogue was one of the keywords at the Conference. What are the implications and how does it stop prejudice?

D.B.: In Scripture, Jesus recommends the golden rule: "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." As minorities, in Italy we have been subject to a lot of prejudice and discrimination; in other countries, the problem is much more serious. Why should we wish wrong unto others: that which we have suffered ourselves? Talking to someone means you recognize the image of God in him, listen to what he has to say, identify with the difficulties and make yourself available to help in any way.

N. A .: What other important words emerged from the Conference?

D.B.: In addition to dialogue, respect, rights, listening, we also addressed storytelling, especially with children; the law on religious freedom, which we are still waiting for; of ancient and modern "pogroms" massacres, skillfully presented by two actors who inspired the audience, they presented the dramatic episodes of stigma on minorities; and finally, 'sharing', which later materialized with colorful food and ethnic snacks, offered by "Nosotras", a group of women from over 50 different nationalities.

N.A.: Did the conference promote any initiatives? 

D.B.: Yes, it was an opportunity for promoters to launch two appeals: one, addressed to the city authorities in Florence to grant Muslims an honorable mosque; the other, addressed to RAI (Italian National Television) Supervisory, to make information on religious minorities more accurate and consistent. Many people have also signed petitions. The collection of signatures will continue yet for a few weeks.

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