Bepi Pezzulli
International counsel & foreign policy adviser

The Muslim Brotherhood covets a presence in Italy

Christianity and Judaism are “heresy and manipulate the original message of the prophets.” This is the shocking theory of Yassine Baradai, the Secretary General of UCOII, the largest umbrella organization of the Islamic communities in Italy.

Baradai, known for sparking controversy, has even put his views on paper: “God says it clearly in the sublime Quran” – he writes – “that these two beliefs are heresy. If it were otherwise we Muslims would be allowed to follow Judaism or Christianity.” Instead, he claims that “Islam comes to correct the mistakes made in the earlier Holy Scriptures (Torah and the Gospels).”

Baradai made these disagreeable assertions in a sermon to mark the Ashura – a religious recurrence dear to the Shiites. In his commentary, Baradai stated that on this Islamic festival “Muslims sacrificed themselves to rejoice in the salvation that God has given, through the Prophet Moses, to the Jewish people.” However, the Secretary General of UCOII contends, “salvation was offered to the Israelite people and not the Jewish people, who are of recent nascency. The children of Israel – he wrote – weren’t Jews.”

Unacceptable as they are, his questionable words were probably crafted in order to play the terrain of anti-Zionism.

UCOII has come under increased fire recently. Two months ago, Abdellah Redouane, the Imam of the great mosque in Rome, denounced some “falsehoods” and “calumnies” committed by the organization. He refers to a clear and present danger: the Muslim Brotherhood has long coveted making a foray into Italy and sees the UCOII as a potential conduit into the country. Baradai has appeared privy to the idea. “The Secretary General of UCOII – wrote Redouane in a note – has declared that UCOII represents the voice of majoritarian Islam in Italy. This is bogus.” Calling into question Baradai, the Imam addressed the elephant in the room: “While paying lip service to unity, the same [Baradai] is attacking those Islamic organizations that have no fault other than that of closing their doors to the Muslim Brotherhood.” In the early days of Muslim activism in Italy, it was Redouane who opposed the takeover of the community by the Salafi-inspired political organization. In doing so, he may have spared Italy the worst. But as the latest events show, the fire is still smouldering under the rug.

About the Author
Bepi Pezzulli is a Solicitor specialised in International law and a foreign policy adviser covering Israel, the UK and the US. Currently, he is Executive Director of Italia Atlantica, a think-tank based in Rome, Italy. In 2018, he published "The other Brexit" (Milano Finanza Books), investigating the economic and geopolitical implications of Brexit. He is a columnist for the Italian daily financial newspaper Milano Finanza; and a pundit for the financial TV channel CNBC. He received degrees at Luiss Guido Carli in Rome (LLB), New York University (LLM), and Columbia University (JD).
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