The Italian region of Liguria is imposing harder restrictions on building places of worship to prevent the construction of mosques.
Liguria’s regional council narrowly passed what local media dubbs, the “anti-mosque laws,” Tuesday evening. The text of the bill does not mention any specific religion, but opponents claim it specifically targets Muslims in the area.
The regulations give local authorities the power to decide on location and appearance of religious sites.
Construction proposals must meet “architectural and dimensional congruity with the general and specific characteristics of the Ligurian landscape” to be allowed. Communities further get the ability to hold referendums on whether a planned place of worship should be allowed at all.
Islam is the only major religion that hasn’t received official status in Italy.
The Northern League, a party that works for independence of Italy’s northern regions, originally introduced the law to only target religions not officially recognized by the state. That bill was shut down in court for compromising freedom of religion.
Similar legislation has been introduced in other Italian regions but were blocked by the Constitutional Court.
Italy is home to 1.6 million Muslims, but only has four official mosques. Muslims in the country usually gather at apartments and private residences to pray.
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