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Venice mayor praises Letta plan for Islamic museum

Northern League vows to block project on Grand Canal

03 February, 17:27
Venice mayor praises Letta plan for Islamic museum (ANSA) - Venice, February 3 - Venice Mayor Giorgio Orsoni on Monday thanked Premier Enrico Letta for considering an Islamic Museum for the iconic city's Grand Canal, while the regionalist Northern League continued to condemn the project.

Orsoni said the concept fitted with Venice's municipal goal of continuing to bring "great cultural institutions of international (interest) to Venice".

The city offered "a special thanks to ... Letta for his interest in the creation of an Islamic museum of great international scope in Venice, a sign of the history of this city and its openness to dialogue between cultures and religions," added Orsoni.

Letta said earlier in the day, during a trip to Doha, that his government "made a commitment to explore the opportunity to build an Islamic museum in Venice on the Grand Canal".

But that was slammed by the Northern League, which said Letta should focus on the economy and not cultural institutions.

Massimo Bitonci, Senate whip for the regionalist League, accused Letta of working to spread Islam in Italy.

"We do not want any Islamic museum in Venice," Bitonci said. That opinion was buttressed by Lorenzo Fontana, a League Member of the European Parliament who threatened to obstruct such a project.

"We will stay day and night in front of the (project area) and obstruct work," said Fontana.

"The League will never allow such a mess, the Veneto (region) want independence, not Islamic museums," he said, adding that such projects threaten to undermine the foundations of Italian society.