A group of Muslims who prayed in front of the Colosseum during protests against the Israeli offensive in Gaza has been accused of threatening behavior by center-right politicians. Approximately 50 Muslims prayed by the Roman amphitheater during the demonstration, refueling a similar incident in Milan earlier this month. “The pseudo-prayers in Milan and in front of the Colosseum are nothing to do with religion – they are threatening and intimidatory acts towards the Italian people,” said Maurizio Gasparri, Senate whip for Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s People of Freedom (PDL) party. Gasparri added that “people mustn’t use prayer as a political weapon.” Head of the Association of Moroccan Women in Italy, Souad Sbai, described the Muslims’ act as ”a provocative demonstration against the West, Christians and moderate Muslims organized by extremist groups”.

Growing concerns prompted House Speaker Gianfranco Fini to call for imams in Italian mosques to preach in Italian rather than Arabic, so as to lead to greater transparency.

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