A memorandum of understanding has been signed between the Italian government and the Union of Islamic Committees and Organizations in Italy (UCOII), under which imams will have the opportunity to impart religious education and lead prayers to Muslim prisoners in prisons. The agreement was signed by Chief Justice of the Prison Administration Bernardo Petralia and UCOII President Yassin Lafram.
Last month, an agreement was signed last week between Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and a UCOI delegation to open the country’s mosques and prayer halls. In the light of that agreement, a new agreement was signed. The signing of a statewide agreement with Muslim delegates is seen by many as a step towards the recognition of Islam as a religion in Italy. The Muslim community has expressed relief after the agreement was signed.
According to the Italian Ministry of Justice, 10,000 of Italy’s 60,000 detainees are foreigners. Most of them are citizens of Morocco, Tunisia and Romania. Seven thousand two hundred of the prisoners in Italy are Muslims. There are 98 religious teachers for them. The 44 detainees claim they have converted to Islam in prison. At present only a few prisons in Italy have places of prayer for Muslim prisoners, which is far less than necessary.
A statement from the Italian Ministry of Justice said that the Italian constitution, which includes the principle of religious freedom for all citizens, would help enforce the agreement. The Italian constitution gives all prisoners the right to practice their religion properly. As the number of people of different faiths in Italian prisons has increased, so has the need to allow people to practice their religion properly.
According to the agreement, UCOII will provide a list of imams in Italy, who will provide religious guidance to Muslim prisoners in prisons across the country and lead their prayers. The views of imams will be taken into account in the selection of workplaces. “It’s very comforting,” said Lafram, a leader of the Italian Muslims. In the light of the new agreement, it will be possible to perform prayers with the congregation in all prisons in Italy. It is the result of a project that began five years ago in eight Italian prisons.
It is to be noted that in 2015, rooms were allotted for the prayers of Muslim prisoners in some prisons in Italy. But there was no opportunity to perform prayers together with the congregation. However, during special times like Ramadan, the authorities allow prayers in congregation.