Hamas-link imam sparks row in Milan

By Ruth Ellen Gruber, September 3, 2013

Anti-Israel statements and participation by a Hamas-linked imam in Milan’s Ramadan celebrations have led the Jewish community to suspend relations with a local Muslim umbrella body, the Milan Islamic Associations Coordination (CAIM) group.

The break came in mid-August, after CAIM co-ordinator Davide Piccardo was quoted in the media as calling Israel “a state in constant breach of international law and the most elementary human rights by continuing a brutal, racist, criminal occupation”.

Four days earlier, Milanese Jews had decried the participation of the Jordanian Imam Riyadh al-Bustanji in huge ceremonies organised by CAIM to mark the end of Ramadan at a Milan civic arena, and had criticised Milan’s city authorities for taking part.

In June, Al Bustanji appeared in an interview on Al Aqsa TV — run by Hamas — saying that he would bring his daughter to Gaza to learn how to become a martyr for Islam.

The communiqué announcing the break with CAIM said Mr Piccardo’s statement “is an inacceptable declaration, not only for the Milan Jewish community but also for all the citizenry of Milan.”

Milan Mayor Giuliano Pisapia weighed into the row, saying he hoped the controversy over the Imam attending the Ramadan celebrations would not damage “the course of dialogue between the various religious faiths”.

Last updated: 4:21pm, September 3 2013