Italy's supreme court strikes down local "anti-mosques" legislation

Italy's Constitutional Court has reportedly struck down a law that strictly limited the opening of new mosques and other places of religious worship in Milan's Lombardy region.

The decision was announced Wednesday by Lombardy Governor Roberto Maroni, a proponent of the bill, and civil rights group Vox Diritti, who challenged it. The court, known as the Consulta, has not yet issued its official ruling.

"The Consulta has rejected our law, which regulated the building of new mosques," Maroni said.

Lombardy's so-called "anti-mosques" law was passed 12 months ago. It introduced stringent planning requirements on religious buildings, such as the presence of large car parks and security cameras, which critics say seriously limited the possibility of opening new religious sites.

Maroni hails from the far-right Northern League, and his administration is supported by the conservative Forza Italia of former premier Silvio Berlusconi.

Maroni jeered at political rivals, accusing left-wingers of welcoming the ruling with the Muslim prayer "Allah Akbar" (God is the greatest), while Northern League leader Matteo Salvini railed against the "Islamic Consulta, complicit to [the Muslim] invasion."

A court spokeswoman in Rome refused to confirm the decision. She told dpa that judges heard the case on Tuesday, and that their ruling would be published within a fortnight.

The government of centre-left Prime Minister Matteo Renzi - the Northern League's biggest political foe - filed an appeal against the law to the constitutional court in May, on the grounds that it violated freedom of worship and other fundamental rights.

Last update: Wed, 24/02/2016 - 17:53
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