R014 - Arabic school in Milan. Why?

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Letters to the Corriere of 3/09/2005 and 23/10/2005

Back in Europe: 20 or 30 years ago the European citizen did not know of the existence of Islam other than vaguely.  For the past thirty years, Islam has been established in Europe with good or bad manners, helped in this by some of our political forces for reasons that I do not know and that I would like to know. I would like to understand their motivations.

Voices coming from our country have warned about the clash of cultures that could arise from the arrival of millions of people with customs and traditions clearly in conflict with European legislation, not least Cardinal Martini in 1990, Us and Islam. We even protected people sought after in their own countries for undermining the stability of their states.

Dear Director, you are certainly aware that the majority of Muslims in Italy are of Middle Eastern origin, that is, Arab culture; they have found in our Democracy, a guarantee and a freedom that they did not have in their own countries. One wonders: do they want to live in the West importing customs, traditions and worship as practiced in Arab countries? Obviously a distinction must be made between official Islam, Muslims and fundamentalism.

But what message do the Islamic Centers in Italy propose in the face of problems that separate us, such as: Religious freedom, mixed marriage, willingness to observe the laws of Italy, and to live together?  Mosques and centers continue to teach a traditionalist Islam that sees the Western way of life (alias Christian) in opposition to Islam and therefore propose a West to be Islamized. The consequences on the behavior of millions of people are foreseeable.

The reference to Islamic identity, however, is not always compatible with the legal and socio-cultural structure of European countries. This leads to potential conflicts that require to be addressed with awareness necessary to maintain an institutional and social order that is, of course, open to cultural pluralism, but needs to be within the framework of a system of values, shared and legally defined, which all social components, including immigrants, it is desirable to adhere.

That is what I would have liked to find in the majority of the press.

Congratulations on today’s article:

– I can’t understand why some political fringes (and you add Catholics) persist on such a a suicidal path? I hope you will be able to explain it to me one day.


Giuseppe Samir Eid

– My “moderate” Muslim friends (a term I don’t like) hope that the West can influence fanaticism in the Arab world, but they are amazed.

– Arabs (and I am one of them) immigrated to Europe to get away from the extremism that has prevailed since the fifties and they will find it here! It is encouraged by …. I have not understood by whom and why! I am fasting in politics.

I hope that you will continue and that you will not be left alone.

Giuseppe Samir Eid


Commentary on the Appeal of the Honorable Vittorio Agnolotto

Milan courier 23 October 2005

The Islamic School of Via Quaranta: Appeal of solidarity.

Under the screen of solidarity and good feelings of the Milanese, Mr. Agnoletto relaunches the initiative to reopen the school and the right to study for Egyptian children and immigrants in general.

I would like to ask you a few questions:

– Thousands of immigrant families, Egyptian and non-Egyptian, have found a place in Italian schools; how come we stop at a hundred families “all Egyptian”? All Muslim? And why just those?

– Who has ever prevented these children from enrolling in state schools?

– Minister Moratti has taken a decision that goes to the meeting of the integration of these children in the education system of our country: With what reasoning do you not only protest for the good of children, but invite to demonstrations that go precisely against the interest of children, leaving them in the meantime on the street?

– Have you ever had the opportunity to look at the Egyptian education system to decide that the one approved by our ministry is inappropriate and even uneducational if it were applied to these children all special?

– The desire to learn the mother tongue is commendable and should be encouraged: for your information, the institutions have established such courses outside the school programs, which are entirely voluntary and allow the students to be able, one day, to prepare an equivalent to the programs of their country of origin whenever necessary. But how school programs will there be? The countries of the Arab League are 22; have you ever thought of establishing 22 special schools?

– The Corriere reported a statement by the Egyptian ambassador in Rome, Helmy Bedeir, who confirmed that Egypt has nothing to do with that school “and that a ministerial commission at the Egyptian consulate in Milan examines the students in a personal capacity. For the good of these children, would it not be up to the Egyptian authorities to reach an agreement with the Italian authorities? And given that the intention is to preserve the knowledge of the Arabic language, would it not be appropriate for the Arab League to deal with it? Always for the good of these children.

– Our Italian public schools teach religious freedom, gender equality, willingness to observe the laws of Italy, the denial of the ghettos, anf that means the will to live together. Knowing the dedication of our teachers, it is in the classrooms that the children of immigrants experience the integration and build their future on a solid basis, whether they want to settle in Italy, return to their country or travel to the globalized world.

Best regards

 Subject: school in via Quaranta, Milan

Dear Dr,

I agree with you that our institutions must implement laws without delay; these approaches that involve dialogue, for us of Arab culture, are easily interpreted as insecurity and hesitation. The idea of authorizing the teaching of the Arabic language, or of anything else inherent in “Egyptian culture”, is a delicate one and represents going out of the big door to re-enter the service door to regain possession of the ball in play. For an Italian, such request it might seem normal and logical, however you have to be careful because through the teaching of the Arabic language, or any other subject by a teacher chosen by them, you bring back into play the Koran with all the consequences you want to avoid. I would like to suggest this comment to you in order to prevent future trouble; and this has nothing to do with the right or left. I am leaving for Canada to visit relatives of Egyptian origin, but I hope I can read your answer.

Arabic school in Via Ventura in Milan:

The school in question has taken on various connotations interchangeably without realizing that Arabic and Secular, Egyptian and Islamic schools are not equivalent denominations among themselves. Should we not determine which direction the school is heading?

The fact that the majority of the immigrants come from North Africa should not be overlooked, because they bring with them a culture and a set of traditions and habits that are very different from those found in Western society.  Therefore, when families arrive in Europe, their contact with a mentality that is completely new to them leads them to undergo a significant psychological shock.  This is a risky situation in which, if we do not prevent non-EU citizens from being marginalized and left to their own devices, misunderstandings and frustrating attitudes can develop.

According to the Association of Moroccan Women in Italy, the largest Arab community, 80% of their women in Italy are illiterate and most immigrants do not master sufficiently the language of the host country, so as to allow them to carry out independently a professional activity and a peaceful social inclusion. The creation of a Moroccan school has not been proposed.  This incomplete cultural integration often causes lacerating conflicts within the families themselves; therefore, it is useful for families that their children attend public school because they are better able to integrate culturally and build bridges with parents who have not faced the same path of integration. The main beneficiaries will be the children themselves, our fellow citizens, their families and society as a whole.

So I ask: what is the need to create a separate school?

Giuseppe Samir Eid


Free web translation from the original in Italian



The published articles intend to provide the tools for a social inclusion of the migratory flow, shed light on human rights and the condition of life of Christians in the Islamic world from which the author come from. Knowledge of the other, of cultural and religious differences are primary ingredients to create peace in the hearts of men everywhere, a prerequisite for a peaceful coexistence and convinced citizenship in the territory.


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