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February 12, 2009 12:11 PM

The Gaza War's Italian Front

Just as the recent Gaza War had repercussions on Israeli politics, it is having effects on Italian politics as well. The war has raised new questions about church-state relations in a country where religion is always touchy.

The Italian front of the Gaza War opened in Milan on January 3rd, with a demonstration to oppose the Israeli incursion into Gaza. A Muslim prayer in the Piazza Duomo followed the demonstration. This square is the highest profile locale in the city as well as the location of the third-largest Catholic cathedral in the world. The authorities had apparently known about the protest, but the prayer in front of the cathedral was spontaneous. A similar event was held in Bologna in front of San Petronio Cathedral. Italian newspapers printed images of several hundred Muslims gathered in front of the churches, praying toward Mecca.

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