The Italian Almanac

Rome's mosque

Italian News - March 14

Rome's chief rabbi paid a historic visit to Rome's mosque on Monday at the head of a delegation including the leader of the capital's Jewish community Riccardo Paserman. It was the first time a rabbi had visited the mosque - the biggest in the West - and the first official meeting between the Italian capital's Islamic and Jewish communities. The Jewish delegation was received by the leader of the Islamic Cultural Centre that runs the mosque, Abdellah Redouane, who stressed that "religions must unite and not divide".

The two religious leaders condemned Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, while Di Segni stressed the common roots of Islam and Judaism. The chief rabbi also underscored the importance of helping Israel and Palestine achieve peace, "for the good of both sides and the whole world." Di Segni invited the Islamic leaders to visit the Rome synagogue - including the mosque's imam, who was absent on Monday for personal reason.

Rome's mosque, designed by leading Italian architect Paolo Portoghesi - can hold 4,000 people. This compares to a capacity of about 900 for New York's main mosque - although there are plans to build a huge mosque in London containing 40,000 faithful.