Islam in Italy


Oriana Fallaci is facing charges in Italy for defaming Islam in her 2004 book, La forza della Ragione (Italian-language link). A prosecutor recommended shelving the lawsuit brought against Fallaci by Adel Smith of the Italian Muslim Union, citing freedom of expression, but a qadi in Bergamo (where the book was published) has ordered Fallaci to return for trial. Fallaci, who lives in New York, says she won't cooperate.

Islam is apparently now the second-largest religion in Italy. Given the exceedingly small populations of Protestants, Jews, and Orthodox Christians in the country, that's not saying very much in terms of numbers, though it obviously reflects recent immigration trends. As it happens, Italy's Muslim community is home to a singularly moderate imam: Abdul Hadi Palazzi of the Italian Muslim Assembly in Rome.

Sheikh Palazzi has long been a tireless critic of Wahhabism, which he regards as a "poison," and has been a defender of the United States. Muslims have thrived in the free U.S., he has argued, compared to their condition in most of the illiberal Muslim world. More controversially, Palazzi is a supporter of Israel; he bases that support on his interpretation of Quranic verses.

I believe that Palazzi is from Syria, and that his Italian father converted to Islam. The Italian Muslim Assembly maintains an English-language version of its Website with numerous links to Palazzi's writings and speeches, and to articles about the controversies in which he has been involved.