Two identical stories, centered on the endless diatribes on the construction of the mosque, end in diametrically opposite ways: one comes from Sesto San Giovanni (Milan), the other from Pisa. In the former Stalingrad of Italy, led by the center-right for some years, the place of worship for Muslims will not be built. The Northern League mayor, Roberto Di Stefano, confirmed this with a post on Facebook. In the city of the Leaning Tower, on the other hand, after a battle lasting years and various appeals and stamped papers, the Municipality (always led by the center-right) has backtracked: in response to an interpellation, the city planning councilor has made it known that shortly permits will be granted for the construction of the mosque.
The Sesto San Giovanni case
“The sestesi can rest assured”, writes the mayor on Facebook Roberto Di Stefano.“We have already said this many times and yesterday we reiterated it: in Sesto San Giovanni, with us, the mosque will not be built. We have also confirmed it in the new Territorial Governance Plan approved last night by the City Council. If the left wanted to transform Sesto San Giovanni in the Mecca of Northern Italy with the large 2,450 square meter mosque, we think first of the Sesto and assert legality and transparency, two values that – whether Pd and his companions like it or not – are not negotiable for us “.
The mayor, entering specifically, clarifies that “As regards the construction of new places of worship, regular and in maximum safety, we have decided: to set the maximum height of the buildings at 10 meters, without minarets; to increase the number of parking spaces by 200% compared to the surface of the building, therefore 1,400 square meters of parking spaces compared to the total volume of 700 square meters, and considering that by law at least 40% must be left free, to obtain the permit, at least two underground floors of parking spaces must be built; to fix the total volume at 700 square meters, or a maximum of 300 people; to ban after-work spaces, libraries, commercial spaces (as envisaged in the previous project) “. And underlines: “With these guidelines, which fully comply with the regional law on religious equipment, the great mosque will never see light. The judges also reiterated that the Islamic community has lapsed from the building permit and also confirmed that it has not paid 320,000 euros, a debt incurred with the taxpayers of Sesto “. And he concludes: “Let the professionals of left-wing disinformation put their hearts in peace: with us Sesto will never become there Mecca of Italy!”.
The Pisa case
As we said, the situation is diametrically opposed to Pisa. The city councilor Francesco Auletta (A city in the municipality) writes on Facebook: “Mosque: the die is cast, the defeat of the League is total. Responding to our question, the commissioner Dringoli admitted that the agreement (with the Islamic association, ed) was signed at the end of May and shortly, therefore, the offices will issue the building permit. The Constitution wins, the right is defeated “. Beyond the slogans, the defeat will burn a lot in the Pisan League, especially with the deputy Edoardo Ziello and the MEP Susanna Ceccardi on several occasions they had raised the barricades in front of the possibility of building the mosque in the shadow of the Tower.
To save the image the mayor, Michele Conti, last April 16 explained the decision of the Municipality to approve the convention with the Islamic community: “The resolution is a due act that follows up the TAR ruling that accepted the appeal of the Islamic community of Pisa on the mosque. The motivation of the ruling reads that: ‘the appellant association has an interest in the construction of a building of cult, the only one in the Municipality of Pisa, intended to meet the needs of those who practice the Islamic religion. This is of a particular interest as it is expressly considered by art. 8 of the Constitution, and concerns the practice of one of the religions more widespread in the world, in recent decades widely practiced also in Italy. ‘Therefore, the approval of the agreement scheme by the Executive is a duty that we have taken today as a result of the completion of some administrative procedures, being a permit to building an agreement for the construction of works of public interest, such as additional parking stalls and a stretch of cycle path “. After this explanation Conti reaffirmed his own political line: “The Public Administration moves through acts in full compliance with the laws and these require us to proceed in one direction. If the mosque is built in a unsuitable place, it will also be easy to understand who to bear the responsibilities of a choice that we consider urbanistically unfortunate, given that the conditions for which today we arrived at this act had already been created at our settlement. In 2012, in fact, the majority that supported the then mayor Marco Filippeschi had approved one variant to the town planning regulation which provided for the construction of a place of worship in an area then destined to public green, thus starting a path that the Tar ruling made irreversible. That land was then purchased by the Islamic cultural association between 2013 and 2014 and this despite the current town planning regulation identifying many areas intended for ‘places of worship’ already available without the need to make an ad hoc variant “.
Why this difference?
How is it possible, readers will ask at this point, that a practically identical battle ended so differently? The Tar judges certainly played an important role. However, they have done nothing but refer to the Constitution and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, annulling the resolution of the City Council of Pisa (n.38 of 10 September 2019) which denied permission to build the mosque and the cultural center in the area purchased by the Islamic community. As the mayor of Pisa explained, the appeal of the Islamic community prevailed because a breach had been opened by the previous administration (led by the center-left), with the green light for the construction of the place of worship in an area where, in previously, it was expected green. This decision paved the way for a path that was then no longer possible to stop with the subsequent urban planning regulation, despite the extensive effort made by the League and the desire to maintain the commitment made in the electoral campaign with its constituents. Between Tuscany and Lombardy there was also a different regulatory framework regional, as regards places of worship. But it must be remembered that on December 5, 2019 the Constitutional Court accepted the issues raised by the Lombardy TAR, annulling two provisions on places of worship, underlining that the “anti-mosque law” of the Lombardy region “determines a strong compression of religious freedom without this there is no real interest in good governance of the territory “.