That parish that the parish priest turns into a mosque every Friday

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One hundred and fifty-eight Muslims pray in the shadow of a gold crucifix, surrounded by religious icons and Christian symbols. A scene that is difficult to imagine today. Times when the symbols of the West are under attack. Not only in the Middle East, where jihadists have devastated hundreds of churches, but also on this side of the Mediterranean.

Education minister Lorenzo Fioramonti also joined the now historic anti-crucifix battle in the classrooms, which recently said: “I believe that schools should be secular and allow all cultures to express themselves by not exposing a symbol in particular". It's a question of respect and sensitivity, they say. Yet from Montespaccato, a populous multi-Ethnic suburb in the north-east of the capital, a different lesson arrives. In fact, for almost four years in the parish of Santa Maria Janua Coeli an experiment of interreligious dialogue is underway that dismantles the theses propagated by the crusaders of secularism.

It all started in 2016 from a seizure, that of the abusive mosque in Via Montenovesi, in Boccea. What to do? The idea comes toimam, Nafea Ahmmad, who one day decided to knock on the door of Father Antonio Sconamila. The request is unbelievable: "Can we come here to pray?" The priest then remains displaced. A temperament from Cagliari and a missionary past on the outskirts of the world, after a while the don accepts the challenge. Since then, every Friday afternoon, the parish hall on the ground floor houses hundreds of Muslims. But on one condition: that of not removing the Christian symbols that adorn the space. An inadmissible request for some Muslims. "Someone – confesses the religious leader – has moved away from the community, but it has been a minority".
The essence of Koran told by this bearded man is very different from that of extremists. "We are children of the same God" is the synthesis. For his part, even Father Antonio, he had to fight with the distrust of parishioners and residents. Not everyone has yet accepted this situation. "Have they taken our shops, our homes, now even the church? It's not fair ", an 80-year-old thunders. There are those who fear that the parish will turn into a mosque and who, instead, will face the problem of security. "The police are aware of what is happening here and the checks are frequent," assures the father. Reassurances that did not serve to extinguish the controversy. On the contrary, on the Facebook groups dedicated to the neighborhood, users indulged themselves with memes and comments. "They published a photomontage that depicts me next to a kebab and one from the parish surmounted by a half-moon," explains the religious.

The replica? "I am happy with these negative reactions, Jesus Christ said very clearly: Blessed are you when they insult you …". Hard on the issue the municipal councilor of the League, Daniele Giannini: "It would be better if the parish priest thought about proselytizing rather than syncretistic experiments". And again: "The risk is that in the parish, a few years from now, there will be more Muslims than Christians". But the priest has the answer ready. And it is a real revelation: "There are two Muslims who through the attendance of the parish and of the charitable activities have approached our religion". The conversion is near.



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