The construction of a mosque close to Italy’s famous leaning tower of Pisa has come under fire as opponents gather signatures trying to stop the project, claiming it could become a focal point for Islamic radicalization.
“According to a recent poll, 57 percent of Pisans are against the mosque,” said politician Gianluca Gambini, one of the leaders of the campaign, the Telegraph reported Thursday. “It’s not just that it would be built in the wrong location, just 400 meters from the Leaning Tower, but also because people know that mosques are places where there is a risk of radicalization.”
The construction of the mosque was provisionally approved by the city council, but a petition has gathered 1,800 signatures, according to the Express. Italian politician Magdi Allam, who is a convert to Christianity from Islam, called the petition as “Italian revolution” and has spoken out against Islam in the past.
The petition comes at a moment of heightened attention and debates over Islam in Europe. Terror attacks by members and sympathizers of the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, in Paris and Brussels over the past year have led to heightened security and debates over radicalization.
Italian authorities deported a Tunisian national last week who they said was planning an attack on the leaning tower of Pisa. A police report on the case said there was “evidence the Tunisian sympathized with extremism and ISIS,” AFP reported. Italy has not been hit by a large-scale terror attack.
The petition in Italy is just the latest case of controversy and backlash surrounding Muslims in Europe. In Germany the far right Alternative for Germany party tried to block the construction of a mosque earlier this year.
In France, five towns have banned women from wearing burkini, full body bathing suits worn primarily by Muslim women, at the breach. France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls voiced his support of the ban Wednesday saying the clothing was part of “the enslavement of women.”