At least 1.4 million Muslims are living in Italy, making Islam the country's de facto second-largest religion. But as far as Italian authorities are concerned, Islam does not exist, the Washington Post website reports today (February 8, 2017).
Unlike Christianity and Judaism, Islam isn't formally recognized in Italy. Consequently, mosques cannot receive public funds, Islamic weddings have no legal value, and Muslim workers aren't entitled to take days off for religious holidays.
This month, Italy's Interior Ministry and the country's nine major Islamic associations signed an unprecedented agreement. Muslim organizations agreed to create a registry of their imams and to require them to preach in Italian. In return, the government vowed to "facilitate the path" toward the official recognition of Islam in Italy.
The "National Pact for an Italian Islam" has been hailed as a first step toward the normalization of Islam in Italy. But it has also been criticized for creating a double standard: No other religious group has been asked by authorities to hold sermons in Italian.