Monday, October 8, 2012

Money and Mosques

A few days ago the mayor of debt-ridden Palermo hosted some officials from well-off Bahrain (that's their flag shown here) to discuss their investing in the Sicilian city. They're willing to invest two billion euros if the city permits construction of a mosque to accomodate five thousand worshippers.

Unfortunately, this will be more than a quid pro quo. We can expect loud if hypocritical protests from politicians "representing" the Catholic church - including a number of divorced, "devoutly-Catholic" middle-aged men who have fathered out-of-wedlock children with young mistresses - but considering that so many of Palermo's churches stand on the sites of what (until the 12th century) were mosques it shouldn't be too difficult to find a place for one now. At all events,  Italy's "Catholic" and "nationalist" politicians can usually be placated with coin, while Catholicism is no longer the nation's official state religion. During Sicily's multicultural Golden Age, Palermo was a shining example of a multifaith metropolis of religious diversity. Sicilians are descended from a diversity of peoples.

The city has become increasingly multiethnic in recent decades, in a sense returning to its medieval roots. There are many thousands of Muslims in Palermo, mostly from Tunisia, Morocco and West Africa. Providing them with a place of worship larger than those few smaller ones currently available shouldn't be impossible, and the city can use the money. There are plenty of churches; perhaps a few of Palermo's "Catholic" politicians could even visit one sometime, when they're not busy chasing skirts or embezzling public funds!

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