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Mosque opens near the Tuscan city of Siena

Controversy dogged new Muslim religious centre

25 October, 16:44
Mosque opens near the Tuscan city of Siena (ANSA) - Colle Val D'Elsa (Siena), October 25 - After years of controversy, a new mosque was inaugurated Friday in a town near the Tuscan city of Siena.

A minaret rose up from the new mosque El-Radwan di Colle Val d'Elsa, which will serve as a religious centre as well as a place of prayer meetings and discussions, proponents say.

Construction of the mosque faced opposition from some residents and well-known personalities including Mario Borghezio, a member of the European Parliament representing the anti-immigrant Northern League, as well as internationally known writer Oriana Fallaci, who died in 2006.

The site was also vandalized.

"We invite everyone to come," Feras Jabareen, president of the Islamic community of Siena, said Friday.

"This is a place and a sign of peace".

The mosque was built on the outskirts of the town of Colle Val D'Elsa on land leased for 99 years to the Islamic association, which pays annual rent of 11,000 euros. Borghezio was in hot water earlier this year for racist remarks when he claimed that Italy's first black member of cabinet, Integration Minister Cecile Kyenge, wanted to "impose Congo tribal law" in Italy.

He was ejected from the European Parliament's euroskeptics' caucus for the remarks.

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