When the archbishop was interviewed regarding what he thought about a Mosque being built in Bologna some parishioners met his attitude with derision and scorn. The archbishop of Bologna, Matteo Maria Zuppi shared some of his views with his young hosts on Plus Radiò the online broadcaster of the Campus student network. He responded to the interviewers who asked him if he had ever received offenses for his thoughts. On the hypothesis of a mosque, he says, “I got a lot of anonymous letters, which were not very pleasant.”
He reiterated that at the beginning there were a lot more people who were incensed though they have now decreased a little over time. “I received the anonymous letters and one of the first things they asked me when I arrived in Bologna was if I had problems on the mosque. I sensed that there was something wrong so I said: I do not know the history of Bologna but I come from a city where the mosque has existed for almost 50 years, where is the problem? In many European cities, there is a mosque like other places of worship.”
“I had never said Bologna should have a Mosque so then it all kicked off: ‘the bishop wants the Mosque… and suddenly, I got a lot of anonymous letters, not very pleasant, but I have to say, I don’t take them too seriously.” There is a climate of hatred that finds expression explicitly on social networks, from which the archbishop of Bologna keeps away from. “Hatred is there, it is undeniable and sometimes you do not realize what you write.” Social media, he observes, “may be useful but dangerous, I have never gone there. At first, I was kind of suspicious, which has still remained… This can become a problem if it becomes the essence of our being.
Yassine Lafram, President of the UCOii – Union of Islamic communities in Italy, spoke of his “Solidarity and closeness” with Zuppi. He himself has long since received the same treatment of threats and insults “from people who have nothing to do with this city, but finds others always supportive and friendly.” And Lafram says he is worried about the political climate “that protects those who threaten and offend all those who claim a constitutional right to have a place of worship.” Andrea De Maria (Pd), also espouses his solidarity saying, “This is a further sign of a climate of hatred and intolerance that can not be underestimated: from Mons Zuppi comes a teaching of dialogue, meeting and social cohesion that is in perfect harmony with the history and culture of Bologna, a city of openness, and a university city in network with the world, the Gold Medal of the Resistance, and which is deeply linked to the values of our Constitution.”