Coexistence With Islam Is Possible, Says Journalist

Luigi Accattoli’s Book Talks About Muslims in Italy

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ROME, NOV. 23, 2005 ( A journalist who covers the Vatican has written a book showing 150 episodes that reflect the good relations with Muslims in Italy.

«Good coexistence is frequent, but rarely does anyone talk about it,» commented Luigi Accattoli, a reporter for the newspaper Il Corriere della Sera.

His book «Islam: Italian Stories of Good Coexistence» was published by Dehonian Publications of Bologna. The Italian bishops’ National Service for the Cultural Plan contributed to the volume.

«I would say that the stories came to me spontaneously,» the journalist recalled. «It was enough for me ask, for example, when arriving in a city or a parish of Rome for a conference: ‘Do you know a Muslim who lives peacefully and is well integrated?’ The response was immediate: ‘Go to this association, speak with that Caritas volunteer, visit this bookstore,’ etc.»

From here it was a short step to hear stories about good coexistence, Accattoli told ZENIT.

Prayerful Islam

«For example,» he said, «the discovery of seven Muslims who study at the Gregorian University, of a Muslim who works in the Vatican, of another who is sacristan in a Milan parish, of Muslim immigrants who have become directors of Caritas; mayors; heads of ACLI [Christian Associations of Italian Workers] departments.»

Accattoli insisted that «four Muslim interlocutors must be distinguished: prayerful Islam, Muslim fundamentalism, political Islamism, and Muslim terrorism.»

«The prayerful Islam must be respected,» said the 24-year veteran of Il Corriere della Sera. «According to specialists, it represents 85% of the whole of Islam. It is to the latter that I have turned preferentially to look for my stories.»

«Muslim fundamentalism must be combated,» the journalist continued. «There must be a political reaction to political Islamism, and Muslim terrorism must be prevented and suppressed, with intelligence services and arms, but not with war, which affects peoples and increases the challenge of terror. It encourages, exacerbates and multiplies it.

«Day in, day out, I think the best reaction to Muslim terrorism is to encourage good coexistence. To make achievements in coexistence known is a variant of this attitude that is especially appropriate for a journalist like me.»

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