Wednesday, February 27, 2008


Parties woo Muslim candidates for April polls

Rome, 26 Feb. (AKI) - For the first time in Italy's history, almost all party lists will contain at least one Muslim candidate in the mid-April elections, reflecting the growing influence of immigrants in politics.

Souad Sbai, the Moroccan Women's Association president is among prominent Muslim figures who Italy's various parties hope will run for office on their ticket. Sbai is also a member of Italy's Consulta Islamica, a government-appointed consultative body for Muslims in Italy.

Italy's political right has been especially courting Sbai. Over the weekend, Maurizio Gasparri, MP for the conservative National Alliance party, said he had approached Sbai, and hoped she would join its electoral list.

"We are committed to increasing women's representation in Italy's institutions, in senior positions in government and immediately in electoral lists," said Isabella Bertolini, vice-president of the conservative Forza Italia party, and Forza Italia MP Maria Rosaria Carfagna, in a statement.

Egyptian-born journalist Magdi Allam, deputy editor of respected Italian daily Corriere della Sera, has however quashed rumours circulating recently that he intended to join former prime minister and business tycoon Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right People of Freedom alliance.

Sbai, prominent Italian journalist and Middle East commentator Fiamma Nirenstein, and Catholic journalist Eugenia Roccella, are among personalities being courted by the People of Freedom alliance. The grouping includes Berlusconi's Forza Italia Party, the National Alliance and the anti-immigrant Northern League party.

The Northern League has set it sights on its own Muslim candidate, Moroccan-born Zakkaria Najibi, a local councillor in the northeastern province of Padua, in the Veneto region.

Najibi, who has lived in Italy for 30 years, is a prominent opponent of illegal immigration.

The centre-left Democrat Party is expected to field Algerian-born sociology lecturer and columnist Khaled Fouad Allam. Former judge and public prosecutor Antonio di Pietro's centre-left Italy of Values party may field Islamic studies lecturer Ahmad Vincenzo as a candidate for the Senate.

The small centrist Union of Christian Democrats (UDC) is holding talks with the imam of the northern Italian city of Milan's mosque, Yahya Pallavicini.

Pertinent Links:

1) Parties woo Muslim candidates for April polls

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