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Belonging, identity and citizenship
of youth in the Jewish
and Muslim Communities
in Italy, Germany and Bulgaria

This project is cofinanced by the Approvato dalla Provincia di Torino, Società Ricerca e Formazione GEA CGIL The Centre for
European Commission under the Assessorato alle Politiche Attive di Cittadinanza, Diritti Sociali e Parità, Professionisti Associati & Partners Cooperativa Bildungswerk e. V. Comparative Studies
Fundamental Rights and Citizenship con la partecipazione finanziaria della Regione Piemonte Torino Sociale
Through an active and intensive participation to this project, all people involved demonstrated that is possible react to the recent increasing
of racist, islamophobic and anti – Semitic behaviours in many European countries. People involved were in fact able to strategically act to
sensitize public opinion about the need of facing prejudices and stereotypes. This contribute to the creation of “occasions of dialogue” and lasting
places of trust.
We acknowledge:

young Jews and Muslims involved, in particular Shaima Shelaoui, Daniel Reichel, Manuel Disegni, Omar Dogliani (Turin); Benedetto
Sacerdoti, Fatima Zhara Errady, Yamina Hamadouche, Leonardo Professione (Padua); Bahadir Aksit, Alexander Itskov, Kiril Ures, Ilja
Blishewskij (Frankfurt); Victor Fachev, Hayri Emin, Iren Koenova, Rusland Trad (Sofia);
Associations and communities, in particular, in Italy, G.M.I. and U.G.E.I., Omar Jibril – Chairman of G.M.I. association, the Council and
the Jewish Community in Padua, the Islamic Center of Vicenza, the University Group XENOS and the association “Il Nostro Pianeta” of
Turin, the social Cooperative Marypoppins in Ivrea; in Germany, the Council of Foreigners of Kreis in Offenbach and, in Bulgaria, the Jewish
House in Sofia, Kemal Eyup and Irina Mouleshkova - Commission for Protection against Discrimination, Raina Georgieva - IOM, sede di
Sofia, Boris Cheshirkov – UNCHR in Sofia, Movement of Rights and Freedom and in particular the Deputy Chairman of MRF Mr. Kasim
Dal, the Chairman of Youth organization of MRF Mr. Ismailov and the Chairman of Sofia organization of MRF Mr. Halilov; Belonging, identity and citizenship
Regione Piemonte (regional authority), Province of Turin and, in particular the Councillor for Active Citizenship Policies, Social Rights and
Equal Opportunities Mariagiuseppina Puglisi, City of Turin (Council of Integration Policies and Cultural Events Department), Cities of of youth in the Jewish
and Muslim Communities
Padua, Ivrea, Moncalieri (City, Youth Project and Peace Office) and Offenbach;
University of Turin, Social Science Department and in particular prof. Dario Padovan - scientific external supervisor of the project, University
of Ivrea – Faculty of Nursing; Department of Sociology – University of Padua and in particular prof. Stefano Allievi; High school A. Pigafetta
of Vicenza; all the boys of course “Future” of the CGIL Bildungswerk e.V. and the member of the team Libero Rillo, Ertugrul Cakmak and in Italy, Germany and Bulgaria
the Volkhochschule di Offenbach; prof. Teofanov - Department “Arab Studies” – Sofia University and the Institute of Economics at the BAS of
U.N.A.R. - Focal Point of Padua and especially Lawyer Marco Ferrero and ASL TO4;
Jelio Jelev (Zhelyu Zhelev) - first democratic President of Bulgarian Republic, for taking part to the transnational meeting in Sofia; Ertan
Kara – Advisor to the President of Bulgaria; Silvia Demma, for work packages translation; Daniela Consoli - lawyer in Florence, Chiara
Favilli – University in Florence, Alessandro Maiorca - jurist in Turin, Walter Citti – expert in no discriminatory Law in Trieste, Claudia
De Benedetti – Deputy Chairman in UCEI, Franco Segre – member of Jewish Community in Turin, Claudio Vercelli - Salvemini Study
Centre, Tullio Levi – Chairman of Jewish Community in Turin, Guido Fubini, former President Justice and Freedom association in Turin
and member of “Collegio dei Probiviri” in UCEI, Abdelaziz Kounati – Islamic Institute of Italy and Peace Mosque – UMI; Bahi Nour Eddine
– national responsible multireligious dialogue in Ucoii, Abdeslam Johuari – Immigration Office in CGIL of Torino; Alice Silva - G.E.T.
(Giovani Ebrei Torinesi) Coordinator, Sarah Amzil – member of G.M.I. association and all the other experts interviewed for the research

Our warmest tanks to all of them.

This publication has been produced with the financial support of the Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Programme of the European Commission. The contents of this
publication are the sole responsibility of authors and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Commission.

Graphic Design: Cesare Crova

Release date: September 2010
Translated by Francesco Giani

More information: Società Ricerca e Formazione s.c.r.l. - via Pietro Micca, 17 10121 Turin, Italy
Ph. +39.(0)11.5171122 / Fax +39.(0)11.5624218
E-mail: -

Reproduction is authorized providing the source, or else indicated.

The Project Otherwise Different and this publication are the result of the collaboration between
Gian Luca Boggia, Elena Carli, Andrea Dragone e Ibrahim Osmani - S.R.F., Turin (Italy);
Roberta Ferrante, Francesca Palma, Daniela Romeo - CGIL-Bildungswerk, Frankfurt (Germany);
Marco Baldini, Alice Bruni, Alessia Iselle, Fabio Rizzi - cooperativa GEA, Padua (Italy);
Emilia Chengelova, Irena Ilieva, Vesselin Mintchev, Roska Petkova - CCS, Sofia (Bulgaria)

Foreword................................................................................................................................................................ pag. 1

Part One................................................................................................................................................................ pag. 5

Sociological section................................................................................................................................................ pag. 7
Organization, Social Practices and Problems of Jewish and Muslim Communities in Bulgaria......................... pag. 9
Organization, Social Practices and Problems of Jewish and Muslim Communities in Germany...................... pag. 27
Organization, Social Practices and Problems of Jewish and Muslim Communities in Italy............................. pag. 47
Juridical section................................................................................................................................................... pag. 85
The European juridical framework................................................................................................................... pag. 86
Antisemitism, islamofobia and other forms of discrimination in Bulgaria........................................................ pag. 91
Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism and xenophobia in Germany............................................................... pag. 127
Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and other kinds of Discrimination in Italy...................................................... pag. 145
Basic Glossary . ................................................................................................................................................. pag. 153

Part Two ........................................................................................................................................................... pag. 165

Local animation in Bulgaria........................................................................................................................... pag. 167
The german experience .................................................................................................................................. Pag. 175
The piedmontese experience .......................................................................................................................... pag. 183
The venetian experience . ............................................................................................................................... pag. 189

Part Three ......................................................................................................................................................... pag. 189

Final Recommendations................................................................................................................................. pag. 197

Enclosure n. 1 General Overview...................................................................................................................... pag. 201



Project and final product presentation

Nobel prize laureate in Economics Amartya Sen coined the expression “otherwise different” to indicate
the pluralist nature of our identities, i.e. the very nature that forces us to decide about the relative impor-
tance of our associations and affiliations in each specific context.
This basic idea was taken as the starting point for the homonymous research project, which took place
in four cities (Turin, Padua, Frankfurt, and Sofia) of three member States of the European Union (Italy,
Germany, and Bulgaria). The project team has collected and assessed information about the main issues
faced by some members of the Muslim and Jewish communities during their integration process, about
some discrimination cases, about the racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic attitudes and behaviours (with
various degrees of violence) they had experienced or become aware of, as well as about the origin of the
stereotypes and prejudices against the two communities. Micro-contexts were created where some adults
and youth belonging to Jewish and Muslim communities from different areas could talk about, discuss
and compare their experiences. The representatives of other religious groups prevailing in their societies
were also involved. Guidelines have been drafted in order to make public opinion aware of the existing
prejudices and stereotypes, as well as to fight racism and discrimination.

Together with the enclosed DVD, which is an integral part of it, this publication illustrates and sum-
marizes the main results the Otherwise Different project has achieved. More specifically, the first part of
this publication contains the data and the information collected during the research work in the three
contexts under study; such data and information were aimed at setting the abovementioned phenomena
in a juridical and sociological perspective. The second part of the document describes the topics of this
survey, as well as the methodology adopted in the micro-contexts of dialogue that were set up. The third,
and last, part finally sums up the perspectives and the practical proposals the project team has drafted in
co-operation with the participants to the study. The DVD further contains some of the most significant
materials used in order to prepare for the TV-format talk-show the young representatives of the two reli-
gious communities (form the cities involved in the project) set up and managed; the DVD also contains
the video of the talk-show itself.


Research methodology of Europe; this structure has been adopted to make a comparative reading easier. Since the relationship
with the State is mainly gauged through its regulations, and since these often end up providing no other
In order to better steer the research work, a few definitions of such terms as racism, xenophobia, Islamo- tools but the afflictive ones associated to punishment, we thought it would be appropriate to try and un-
phobia and anti-Semitism were preliminarily identified. These definitions were shared with the project derscore that in the various countries some sorts of institutional racism exist, whereby at times the Law
partners, and are provided in this document as a basic glossary. Actually, in our time one hardly records itself ends up discriminating some groups.
direct attacks aimed at a whole race, while in many instances such attacks are aimed at specific groups,
especially when these have peculiar characteristics (such as being homogeneous, easily identifiable and
stable over time, as well as allowing individuals to be identified with a group or a link to be established be-
tween biological and cultural traits, and so on.). Likewise, the opposition to racism currently takes up dif- The story of a successful journey, and further proposals for the future
ferent hues, thereby turning universalistic, humanistic, diversity-oriented, inspired by the enlightenment, The second part of this publication offers the reader an accurate overview of the work performed during
peace-oriented and so on. Not by chance, at the social level racism is built on cultural, human-physical, the group-level activities (i.e. the meetings, the focus group, the talk-show, etc.). It identifies the partici-
symbolic and other features (to the extent that such experts as Teun Van Dijk, Michel Wieviorka, Alfredo pants (making reference to the processes adopted to select them and their group leaders), the main stages
Alietti and Dario Padovan talk about a so-called “mixophobic” racism). Racism often arises from a lack of (in chronological order), the topics discussed in each stage (in order to allow for an easy comparison
dialogue; for this research work, the tram adopted a strategy aimed at highlighting the elements shared by among the adopted approaches), the adopted tools (problem tree, talk-show hosting techniques, etc.), as
the two communities, namely the fact that both religions are monotheistic and Abrahamitic, with strong well as an analysis of the positive results (such as the significant strengthening of the bonds among the
ties with tradition, as reflected by the use of specific habits and clothing, as well as by rituals associated to young people belonging to the two different religious communities in the various countries) and of the
the preparation of food (e.g. animal slaughtering, etc.). They may be hated and currently seen as opposed critical issues (such as the target peculiarity, which has sometimes made it hard to identify subject who
to modernity precisely because of these traits (see also Z. Bauman, Modernity and the Holocaust, Cornell could ensure a continuing support to the proposed activities). The DVD also contains, in an electronic
University Press). format, the materials used at, and produced by, the individual meetings, as well as a report by images
The sociological research work has been carried out starting from a reference framework prepared by the about the main project events and their key participants.
project leadership and shared with the project partners. This framework includes the following 6 thematic The third, and last, section provides an itemized summary of the final recommendations; for each com-
areas: mon key point, the team has tried to suggest one or more practical recommendations for future develop-
1. Presence (national-level statistical data on the number of individuals belonging to the Jewish and ments both at the national and at the European level.
Muslim communities)
2. Organizations within the communities
3. External relations (with other religious communities, with the State, with the local governments,
4. Relations with the social context
5. Discrimination events
6. Prejudices circulated by the media.
In each context, the researchers have used three main tools, namely a review of the published European-
and national-level research and literature, some in-depth interviews with (about ten) privileged witnesses
(for each context) and a focus group with the contact points of the Jewish and Muslim communities in-
volved in the study, in order to expand on the issues associated to personal experiences and opinions.

The juridical research work, on the contrary, has started from a reference summary prepared by the project
leadership, which was later supplemented with the partners’ contributions, as well as with the European-
level initiatives developed after 1997 (the “European Year against Racism”) and aimed at countering
racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic phenomena. The specific laws and regulations enacted by the three
member States involved in this project were surveyed by means of in-depth interviews with key witnesses
(jurists, lawyers, etc. who are experts in anti-discrimination law) and of questionnaires (consisting of a
common set of partially structured questions) administered to experts belonging to each area. The data
so acquired were partly arranged into three broader reports, and partly summarized in a single overview.
The latter is structured as proposed in 2004 by the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law on behalf of the
European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), and as later published by the Council




Organization, Social Practices and Problems of Jewish and

Muslim Communities in Bulgaria

Editor: CCS

The jewish community in Bulgaria . ............................................................................................. 10

Main Organizations of the Jewish Community in Bulgaria........................................................ 10
Relations with Other Religious Communities and with the State/Local Authorities................... 12
Interactions with the Social Context........................................................................................... 13
Public Opinion and Prejudices................................................................................................... 15
The muslim community in Bulgaria.............................................................................................. 17
Main Organizations of the Muslim Community in Bulgaria...................................................... 17
Relations with Other Religious Communities and with the State/Local Authorities................... 21
Interactions with the Social Context...........................................................................................22
Public Opinion and Prejudices...................................................................................................23

 Assoc. prof. Emilia Chengelova; Assoc. prof. Roska Petkova; Assoc. prof. Vesselin Mintchev


The jewish community in Bulgaria are being organized, where middle-aged or “golden aged” lecturers talk to young audience; or young
people talk to middle-aged or “golden aged” audience. Most respondents mention this as one of the most
effective ways of maintaining good interrelations inside the community – developing joint programs and
organizing joint events, which are interesting for more than one generation of people, exchanging ideas
and discussions between the different groups.
I. Main Organizations of the Jewish Community in Bulgaria At formal level, however, there is a certain rivalry between the different organizations. The Jewish com-
munity seems to be a reduction of the Bulgarian society with all its pros and cons, with its political disu-
The main non clerical union of the Jews in Bulgaria is the organization Shalom. Shalom was created in
nity, with the mixing of politics and social activities. Almost all respondents state the existing of ideologi-
1990 as successor of Jews consistory in Bulgaria existing till the end of 1940. Shalom unite 16 regional
cal pluralism inside the Jewish community, as well as supporters of both left and right ideas. The rivalry
organizations, registered according to BG civil law. General Assembly of 104 representatives elected by
between the Hashomer Hatzair organization, which has more left views, and B’nai B’rith organization,
the regional unites is the main governing body. In the Consistory enter 33 members. The reunions of
which has more right views, is noticeable. Inside the community there is a controversy on some religious
Consistory take place 3-4 times per year. In the governing council enter 11 members. Its reunions take
matters. For example, when there is a prayer in the synagogue, the Chabad rabbi is not allowed to read the
place once per month. The governing council is responsible for all current activities and problems of the
prayer. All this shows that there is still much to do for raising the spirit of unity in the community. The
community. Its decisions should be approved by the Consistory. Shalom have a President – Mr. Maxim
solution, the respondents suggest, is that the Jewish community should turn more towards itself, should
Benvenisti (since 2007), and two vice-presidents. The President of the Sofia’s unite since 2008 is Mr. Al-
look for its own identity, should organize itself better, so it can become an active power and overcome the
exander Oscar.
tearing controversies. In order for this to be achieved, there is a need for exchange of opinions, as well as
compromises by all.
The Jewish community in Shalom is divided by age groups, and different specific programs are referred to
As it was mentioned before Shalom has a President and two Vice-presidents and a hierarchy structure. The
them. The programs are conformed to the needs and main expectations of each age group. For instance,
President represents the organization and participates in all public events, where an opinion and position
there is a children’s group – up to 18 years old. There is youth group ranging people aged 18 to 35. There
of the Jewish community in Bulgaria is required. Shalom is managed by Governing Council. The elec-
is also a group of the middle age – people between 35 and 50-60 years old, as well as a group of the people
tion of its members is made by purely democratic elections between the members of the organization. It
over 60 – the so-called “golden age”. A specific feature of the Jewish community in Bulgaria is that the
happens at the General Assembly of Shalom. In general, every member of Shalom has the right to be a
meetings of the elderly people are most visited. During these meetings they learn “Ladino” – Judaeo-
candidate. The Governing Council is elected from the suggested candidates through a transparent proc-
Spanish language, used by the Community in the Balkan area. They also learn dancing, exercises for
ess. It is obligatory one of the elected members of the Governing Council to be a representative of the
elderly, they listen to lectures, attend concerts, etc.
youth and is elected from the youth group. This comes from the specific needs of the youth group, and its
Besides Shalom there are other organizations of the Jews in Bulgaria, mostly of religious character. For ex-
representative will protect its interests.
ample, such organization is Chabad, which is a branch of an international organization, aiming at joining
the Jews around the world into the Jewish culture and traditions through the religion. It has representa-
The youth is the part of the Jewish community in Bulgaria, which organizationally is most fully ranged.
tions in over 140 countries, including Bulgaria.
There are many Jewish youth organizations. First, it is the youth organization of Shalom, which is a part
There is also the Jewish Religious Council at the Synagogue. Some time ago, there was also a sport organi-
of the Shalom organization and follows the general principles of the organization. It works extremely ac-
zation Maccabi but it does not function anymore.
tively. A Youth Center for Jewish informal education functions in the Jewish House in the frames of this
There are also representations of many other international Jewish organizations in Bulgaria. For example,
youth organization. It works with volunteers who develop different educational programs for children and
such is the Bulgarian branch of the American Joint Foundation, situated in the Jewish House. In its es-
young people. At the Jewish House there is also a Sunday school – also for young people and also part
sence this foundation is a fund, supported by wealthy Jewish families in USA, which finances different
of the youth program of Shalom. Also in the frames of Shalom functions the so-called Adraha College,
programs for supporting the Jews around the world. The youth international Jewish organizations with
which is for children under 18, and is a place for studying Judaism in order to form leadership qualities
branches in Bulgaria, however, are most in number. Such are the Zionist Youth Movement Hashomer
in the young people. The youth organization Hashomer Hatzair also has an important place in the life
Hatzair, the international organization B’nai B’rith (created in USA but spreading its activity and creating
of the Jewish community, and especially the young people. It organizes special educational programs,
branches in many countries around the world, where Jews live), the International Organization of Jewish
which engage the time of a young person during the whole week, if he/she is interested in those things.
For example, on Monday there is a photography class; on Tuesday there is a film show on certain topic;
Almost all respondents think that, as a whole, the Jewish community in Bulgaria is relatively united and
on Wednesday there is a cooking class; etc. Different competitions, seminars, excursions are organized
the relations between the different groups and organizations functioning in the community are good.
at the end of each month. The international Jewish organization B’nai B’rith, which is entirely youth
This is valid mostly at informal level, since whichever organization a person is a member of, he/she com-
oriented, is also represented in Bulgaria. The Bulgarian branch of B’nai B’rith keeps very close contacts
municates with others mostly as a person, and the relationships between the people are those between
with the American B’nai B’rith, and the goals of its activity are usually educational and directed towards
friends or between children, parents, grandparents. Maintaining the good interrelations and establishing
uniting the Jews around the world. They organize international seminars and trainings. In Bulgaria there
cooperation between the different groups is achieved through programs suggesting activities, which con-
are also representations and branches of the European organization of the Jewish students and the World
cern for instance young and middle-aged people, or young and “golden age” people. For example, lectures

10 11

organization of the Jewish youth. This year a representative of the Bulgarian Jewish community is elected permanent inter-ethnic coordinating organ, with objective to coordinate and to support the inter-ethnic
a Vice-President of the European organization of the Jewish students, which is an exceptional pride for contacts and relationships. Some of the respondents even define the contacts rather as informal, than as
our country. institutional interactions.
Most of the programs, executed in the frames of the Jewish community in Bulgaria, are directed towards The main topics, discussed in the frames of the work of the joint projects with other ethnic communities,
the youth, since they realize that the youth is the future of the community. All the same, however, the concern the attitude towards the minorities in Bulgaria, the increase of nationalism and the problems the
opinions of the respondents concerning the place and role of the youth in the Jewish community are not minorities have with that (joint project with the Turkish community), introducing the traditions, habits
unidirectional. Some of the respondents think that the youth organizations play more and more increas- and celebrations of the different ethnic groups and exchanging experience on youth scout programs (joint
ing role in the community. The reason for this is the return to Bulgaria of Jewish people, who have left in project with the Armenian ethnic community), introducing the organizational model of functioning of
the beginning of 1990s to Israel and now are looking again for their place in the society. Other respond- the Jewish community as a model for organization structure, developing organizational culture (joint
ents (most of them), however, think that the youth has almost no authority in the community. On one project with Roma students’ organization).
hand, the reason for this is that the young people are not active and do not engage in public activities. Concerning the relations of the Jewish community with the Bulgarian state, the respondents think that,
On the other hand, the leaders of the community are not interested enough in the young people and since Shalom is the official non clerical organization of Jews in Bulgaria, it is the organization holding
their problems, since the young people are not the ones to elect them. Those respondents think that the the task to maintain the relations with the Bulgarian state through its President Maxim Benvenisti. The
assemblies for electing Governing Council of Shalom, for example, are visited mostly by retired people. President and the members of the Consistory are those who take the responsibility to express the opinion
That is why the leaders of the community try to satisfy their interests first, since their election depends on of the Jewish community at national scale, always when needed. Interestingly, all respondents consider
them. As a whole, the picture of the Jewish community in Bulgaria is a copy of the Bulgarian reality and the relations of the Jewish community with the Bulgarian state are good, and though the Jews in Bulgaria
the problems of the Bulgarian society, but in a smaller scale. are a minority, they are not discriminated and that is why they do not need a special political representa-
In accordance with the presence of two opposite opinions about the place and role of the youth in the tion at national level to protect their interests. Comparing the situation in Bulgaria with other European
Jewish community, the opinions of the respondents about the opportunities of the youth to play an in- countries, all respondents outline that in Bulgaria there is no anti-Semitism. Since for a long time in
novative role in the community and to be a bearer of an innovative culture also divide in two. Some of Bulgaria the religion has been forbidden (the socialist times), today the Bulgarians are not as religious
the respondents think that the youth really brings an innovative culture into the community, since it has as the people in other countries. That is why the religion here is not a reason for dividing and opposing.
its representative in the Governing Council of Shalom and has the opportunity to bring entirely own The respondents consider the relations between Jews and the Bulgarian state as an example of what the
ideas. On the other hand, the youth in itself is a bearer of the new and the positive. This opinion is com- relations between Jews and non-Jews should be around the world. The Jewish community in Bulgaria is
plemented by the notion that the innovative role of the youth inside the community is increased by the considered an absolutely integral part of the Bulgarian state. In the mind of the Bulgarian Jews there is
opportunity of the young people to deepen the pluralism in the community when they express different no separation and opposition between Bulgarians and Jews. The respondents focus on the fact that most
opinion than the one of the elderly generation. The increase of the pluralism concerns the introduction of the Jews in Bulgaria feel Bulgarians first and then Jews.
of new ideological doctrines by the youth, contrary to the dominating for many years unified ideologi-
cal doctrine. The latter refers to the fact that in 1948 most of the Jewish community in Bulgaria moves
to Israel. Only about 10% of the people remain here for ideological reasons, which, combined with 45
years of socialism, has not contributed in any way to the development of pluralism of ideas in the older
III. Interactions with the Social Context
generation. Quite opposite is the opinion of the other respondents, who think that the youth cannot play The conducted interviews outline different problems the Jewish community faces today as a result of the
an innovative role in the community. On one hand, the reason is the passiveness of the youth; and on the social-economic and political situation in the Bulgarian society, being an integral part of it. First, it is the
other hand, the community does not listen to the youth enough so the youth movement could change problem with maintaining the identity. The Jews are a minority in Bulgaria, and the respondents explic-
the things. Those respondents think that in order for the youth to start playing really innovative role, it itly state that maintaining the identity is a paramount task and goal of all minorities. In this connection,
should become more active, and the community should have more readiness to accept its ideas and to according to the respondents, the main task of the Jewish community in Bulgaria is to turn towards itself,
respond to its needs, i.e. there should be more active dialogue inside the community, which according to to organize itself better, to look for the meaning of its existence and to turn from a passive recipient of
them is missing. donor funds from different programs into an active power able to be a factor in the society and becoming
a donor itself to socially weak and poor people. According to the respondents, the task to overcome the in-

II. Relations with Other Religious Communities and with the State/Local Authorities
 The former member of Parliament from the “National Movement Simeon Second” Rupen Krikorian is the first representative of the
The relations the Jewish community in Bulgaria maintains with other ethnic and religious communities newly created National Council of religious communities in Bulgaria. The Council is created on initiative of the Direction on religions
in Bulgaria are very sporadic and short-term oriented. In fact according to the respondents there are no at the Council of Ministers. It involves representatives from the Orthodox church, Catholic church, United evangelist churches, Muslim
permanent relations. They are rather joint projects, and when they are finished, the relations end with religion, Armenian Apostolic Orthodox church and Jewish religion. The idea of the Council is borrowed from the analogue organization
in the European Union, called “Religions for Peace”. Its goal is keeping the peace in Europe and in the world. Krikorian is a chairman of
it. Single joint projects have been carried out with the Armenian, Turkish and Roma communities. Evi- the Eparchial Council at the Armenian Apostolic Orthodox church.
dence of the sporadic and short-term character of the contacts is the fact that till recently there was no a

12 13

ternal, organizational problems existing in the community, provoked by collision of ideological positions IV. Public Opinion and Prejudices
and different opinion concerning the structure and functions of the main organization of the Jews in Bul-
All interviewed respondents unite with the opinion that the discrimination and racialism against the
garia – Shalom, is a result of it. And though it is outlined that lately the Jewish community in Bulgaria has
ethnic and religious minorities increase globally. The attitude to the Jews is also evaluated as worsening,
become more united, it is explicitly stated that the question about attracting those Jews in Bulgaria, who
especially in the last years, due to the Arab-Israeli conflict. The respondents mention the interpretation
avoid the community and have never visited any organization of Jews in Bulgaria, is still open. Another
of the events of the Arab-Israeli relations by the media as a reason for the worsening attitude towards the
quite significant issue, which the Jewish community in Bulgaria more and more often faces today, is the
Jews. All interviewed respondents outline that the global news on the radio and television always place
act of anti-Semitism. On one hand, all respondents specifically outline that the anti-Semitism in Bulgaria
Israel and the Jews in the root of all problems. Rarely is clarified that the Israeli actions have been in re-
is not rooted and is not a part of the Bulgarian mentality and people’s psychology. On the other hand,
sponse to undertaken before that Palestinian attacks.
they state that lately such acts, mostly from different youth nationalistic groups, are more often. They are
Concerning the situation in Bulgaria, the opinions of the respondents differ. Some of the respondents
rather a form of plagiarism, of imitating different foreign organizations.
think that in Bulgaria there is no ethnic discrimination of the Jews. Their explanation is the serious pres-
In connection with this, and as a desire to overcome the mentioned problems, the respondents focus on
ence of Israeli entrepreneurs in Bulgaria, which allows people to understand the Jewish mentality and
different actions, campaigns, undertaken by the Jewish community in Bulgaria at national level. They
way of life and to form an opinion about the Jews based on personal contacts and impressions. The latter
aim to direct the public attention to the problems of this community, and at the same time to show the
is difficult to change by the media. However, other respondents think that lately there is an aggravation
community as an active power, able to fight for and keep its place in the society. The respondents mention
of the attitude towards the ethnic minorities in Bulgaria. To a great extent it is artificially created but still
different campaigns, namely a demonstration at the Venezuela Embassy against the oppression of the Jews
exists. This attitude is due to the political suggestions of parties like “Ataka” and its leader Volen Siderov,
in Venezuela and in support of the Jewish community there; a declaration of Shalom against the anti-
and disseminated by the media. The fact that they can talk on the television strengthens the negative at-
Semitism in Bulgaria, like desecrating Jewish cemeteries, anti-Semitic signs and drawings of swastikas on
titudes towards the ethnic minorities. On the other hand, more and more people do not know what has
the streets, websites with anti-Semitic content, etc.; young Jews giving flowers on the streets on the day
happened to the Jews in World War II, because the old people die and the young people are not aware and
of the Holocaust with the concept “one flower for each dead Jew”; organizing an exhibition of Picasso in
this makes them amenable to suggestions. Those of the respondents, who think that in Bulgaria there is
Sofia as a way of promoting his art and thus the Jewish culture; bringing plays on the stage of the Jewish
some form of discrimination of the Jews, see its manifestation mostly verbally – using certain classifica-
House with free entrance, again to promote the Jewish culture; national campaign for computer training
tions, definitions, talks against the Jews. However, they also think that the use of xenophobic rhetoric
of teachers from the whole country (not only Jews), organized by the Jewish House, etc.
by some extreme nationalists is rather demonstrative. Although sometimes this rhetoric materializes in
drawing swastikas on the synagogue or the Jewish school “Dimcho Debelianov” on the day of the Hitler’s
The specifics and concrete characteristics of the Bulgarian society undoubtedly influence the aspect of
birthday, all respondents admit that to a great extent these are demonstrative actions and they themselves
the Jewish community as being part of it. All interviewed respondents explicitly outline that the Jewish
have never felt threatened or discriminated in the daily life. They see the reason in the fact that in general
community in Bulgaria demonstrates quite many features connected with the Bulgarian national con-
it is very difficult to motivate the Bulgarian society, whether for good or bad, and that is why it is not easy
text. Some of them even state that the attempt of the Jewish community here to keep its ethnic identity
for the Bulgarians to believe the xenophobic rhetoric of certain people. Some of the respondents see an
is doomed to fail, since it has diluted too much in the Bulgarian society and traditions. The Jewish com-
act of discrimination of Jews in Bulgaria in the existing of certain prejudiced opinions about the Jews, for
munity in Bulgaria consists of people who live in the Bulgarian society for generations and of course are
example that all Jews are rich and that is why they have an easy life; or that because of their religion they
influenced by the Bulgarian way of life and are not too different from the Bulgarians. Indisputably they
consider themselves chosen by God and show superiority over others. At the same time, the respondents
carry their Jewish identity, but carry also some of the features and characteristics of the Bulgarian society,
outline that such opinions are completely wrong and that many Jewish families actually barely survive
and especially in the mixed marriages, which are many in Bulgaria. According to the respondents, there
and the thought that they are chosen by God has never crossed their minds.
are almost no Jews who are not influenced by the Bulgarian way of life and who strive to lead a life suit-
Concerning the role of media in forming the public opinion about the Jews, the respondents’ statements
able explicitly for Israel. There are rather opposite cases – there are Jews who refuse to visit synagogue
are very different – from extremely negative to extremely positive, passing through complete lack of such
and follow their own Christian-Jewish traditions. All respondents outline the good relations of the Jewish
attitude. For example, some of the respondents think that the media present the facts quite distortedly
community in Bulgaria with the Bulgarians as a specific characteristic. This is valid not only for today’s
and thus facilitate the increase of the negative attitude towards the Jews. According to them the radio
relations but also in historical plan – the saving of the Bulgarian Jews in the World War II is well-known.
and television news always start with the sentence: “Israel has stricken and killed 10 innocent people”,
As a whole, the Jewish community in Bulgaria considers itself a free community, which has the biggest
without mentioning that before that Palestinians have killed, for instance, 10 Israelis and that the strike
synagogue on the Balkan Peninsula and at the same time it is quite open community, which keeps friend-
of Israel has been a response to the Palestinian attack. Another example is the newspaper articles, which
ly relations with the Bulgarians. This makes the situation of the Jews in Bulgaria quite different than the
focus on the Jews being the richest people in the world and governing the whole world. When people do
situation of the Jews in other countries in Europe, where people are more reticent and the Jews remain
not know the truth, they accept this as pure truth and create a negative attitude towards the Jews, even
isolated. Thus, the Jewish community there is not understood and prejudices about it emerge.
if nothing of the said or written is true. The media in Bulgaria, for example, with their campaigns on
covering the elections, with the announcements of purchasing vote and spreading Islam in the small vil-
lages, facilitate the negative attitudes of the public opinion towards the Turks and minorities in general.
On the other hand, often the media are quite incorrect in the phrases they use when commenting certain

14 15

events and thus they add fuel to the flames of the anti-Semitism. For example, the news journalists use line that the other strategy the community should follow is distributing the Jewish culture and way of
twice the word Israel and the third time they say the Zionist country. It happens because of their desire life and letting other people understand it. On the other hand, they focus also on the fact that in order
to avoid repetition, to sound original, but in fact this way they serve the anti-Semitism, since the people for the community to have influence and respect in the society it should turn to itself, identify its own
with a prejudiced negative attitude towards Israel will immediately decide: “It is a Zionist country”. Other problems and realize its own interests. Only when the community is clear about itself, it will influence on
respondents think that the media have no any purposeful campaigns in support or against the Jews. The the public life.
media in Bulgaria in general are not interested in the Jews. Those respondents think that the Jewish com-
munity in Bulgaria does not play any special role and is not capable of active influence on the processes in
the Bulgarian society, and that is why it is not interesting for the media. They think that this is the reason
for the traditionally good attitude towards the Jewish community in Bulgaria, in a sense that the Bulgar-
ians live well with the Jews since the latter are far from them, unknown and do not bother them. There The muslim community in Bulgaria
is also another group of respondents who think that the media support and especially work for the good
relations between Bulgarians and Jews. They give as an example the fact that BNT transmits all Jewish
celebrations and holidays, and on the biggest Jewish holidays the President of Shalom Maxim Benvenisti I. Main Organizations of the Muslim Community in Bulgaria
congratulates all Jews from the television, the same way the Bulgarian president congratulates all Bulgar- When we talk about the Muslim community in Bulgaria, we should always have in mind that it consists
ians on the New Year’s Eve. of different “sub-groups”. Such are the traditionally living on the territory of Bulgaria ethnic Turks, Bul-
The interviewed respondents focus also on the role of certain institutions, political powers and certain garian Mohammedans, Roma with Muslim religion, as well as the representatives of the Arab countries
political leaders for forming certain public opinion about the Jews. Some of these political powers and and North Africa countries. Although they follow the same religion, these “sub-groups” differ by many
leaders facilitate the creation of positive attitudes and opinions about the Jewish community in Bulgaria. substantial characteristics. Mostly they have different forms of participation in the political, social, eco-
Such example is the two political powers – Bulgarian Socialist Party and “Order, Legality, Justice”. Ac- nomic and cultural life of the country, different degree of public promoting of their religion, different
cording to the respondents they have always clearly expressed a positive attitude towards the Jewish com- attitude to and expectations from the Bulgarian state. Their status is also different. The ethnic Turks,
munity. Some acknowledged representatives of the Jewish community also contribute with their activity Bulgarian Mohammedans and Roma Muslims are all citizens of the Republic of Bulgaria, while most
to the forming of a positive attitude towards the Jews – those are, for example, the actor Itsko Fintsi and representatives of the Arab countries have a status of permanent or temporary residents or refugees.
the conductor Maxim Eshkenazy. The respondents, however, are unanimous in their opinion that very In the minds of the Bulgarians the Muslim community in Bulgaria is associated mostly with the ethnic
often leaders of political parties or other political structures play a negative role, and with their statements Turks. The Bulgarian Mohammedans are traditionally considered a specific group of the population (they
increase the negative attitudes and prejudices against the ethnic minorities, particularly the Jews in Bul- speak Bulgarian but follow the Muslim religion). The immigrants from the Arab countries and North
garia. Such are most often Volen Siderov and Boyan Rasate. Institutions like BTV are also considered as
forming opinions. Most often it happens when they announce a vandalism or robbery and they specify
that the perpetrator is of Roma origin, for example. And although in this case the act is more important,
the focus on the Roma origin of the perpetrator directs the public opinion and prejudices the people even  The traditional (formed until 1878) ethnic minorities in Bulgaria are:
Turks. Certain Turkic tribes (Uruks) of the Seljuk Turks settle on the Bulgarian territories in the 14th century. During the Ottoman pres-
more against the Roma and against the minorities in general. ence on the Balkans the city centers are gradually colonized by Turks from Anatolia. After the restoration of the Bulgarian state many of
Most of the interviewed respondents think that the Jewish community itself has a significant contribution the Turks leave today’s territory of Bulgaria on few waves. During the 2001 census the number of people who identify themselves as Turks
to the forming of a certain public opinion about the Jewish community in Bulgaria. Each representative is 746 664. According to expert evaluations, among the people who identify themselves as Turks there are many Roma who speak Turkish
language, and Bulgarian Mohammedans who do not use Turkish language at home. The Turks inhabit compactly four geographic regions
of the community creates and changes the opinions and attitudes through his/her circles of closest friends, – East Rodopi Mountain, East Balkan Mountain with Pre-Balkan, Ludogorie and Dobrudja. There are Turkish communities in the big
neighbors, colleagues. In this connection the increase of the positive image of the Jewish community in cities (Sofia, Ruse, Varna, Shumen, Haskovo, Kurdjali, etc.), as well as in some smaller towns (for example Nikopol). Most of them have
the Bulgarian society can be achieved through the bigger opening of the community to the society. As a Islam religion (713 024 people) but there are some Christians (Orthodox – 5425 people, Catholics – 2561 people, Protestants – 2066
people). Their mother tongue is Turkish (720 136 people) and Bulgarian (26 147 people).
whole, the respondents think that the responsibility of the Bulgarian Jewish community and its integra- Roma. The first data for appearance of more significant groups of Roma on the Balkans are from 13th – 14th century. Later they settle on
tion in the Bulgarian society is one of the reasons for the traditional lack of anti-Semitism in Bulgaria. the Bulgarian territories on few waves. The Roma are divided into many communities and groups according to the country they have lived
According to the respondents, the work on joint educational programs, which show the Bulgarian society in before coming here, or their religion and language, or the crafts they are engaged with, etc. According to the 2001 census their number
is 370 908 people. As many again have identified themselves as Turks, Bulgarians or have not identified at all. For example, among the
the Jewish way of life, is substantial for achieving bigger openness. Another way of forming a positive im- people who have identified themselves as Bulgarians there are 7016 people with Roma mother’s tongue. In the census 62 108 people have
age of the Jewish community is the active social and cultural activity of the community. not identified themselves; and 24 807 people have not stated nationality. It is possible many of them to be with Roma ethnic characteris-
Some of the respondents (fewer), however, think that the Jewish community in Bulgaria is too small and tics and self-consciousness. Among the Roma, those with Roma mother’s tongue are 319 821 people, with Bulgarian – 26 147 people, and
with Turkish – 24 214 people. They have spread all over the country (only in Rodopi mountain their presence is more limited). In most
weak, and that is why it cannot influence the public opinion. The strategy, which the Jewish community regions they are the most numerous ethnic minority. They follow Islam (103 436 people) and Orthodox Christianity (180 326 people).
should follow for achieving a positive image and place of the Jews in the Bulgarian society, is to prepare Lately the followers of the Protestant denominations among them increase (24 621 people).
people who will later integrate in the governance of the country. Those respondents also think that not Tatars. Tatars have settled on the Bulgarian territories in the 19th century from the region of the Crimea khanate. Many of them have
mixed marriages with Turks and identify themselves as Turks. That is why for one century their number reduces ten times – from 17 942
understanding the other communities is the main reason for not accepting them. That is why they out- people in 1905 to 1803 people in 2001. They follow Islam religion. They use Tatar and Turkish language.
 Immigrant communities formed after 1878: Arabs – 2328, etc.

16 17

Africa, who are also Muslims and though few in number form their own associations and have different third stage of the development of the ethnic Turks who definitely become main structure-determining
forms of public life, often remain outside the range. element of the Muslim community in Bulgaria. The radical changes in the political and social-economic
In the newest history of Bulgaria (since 1944 to present), the forming of the image of the Muslim com- conditions in the country clear the way for the political pluralism. This new opportunity is perfectly
munity passes through three distinctive stages. The first stage ranges the period until the beginning of captured by the MRF leaders who participate actively in the pluralistic political life. In its rhetoric MRF
1980s, when in the conditions of stately organized social and economic regime the Muslims are treated actively defends the protection of the rights of the Turks and Muslims in Bulgaria. With time MRF iden-
as one of the minorities in the country, with equal rights and opportunities for free will, equal access to tifies itself as a spokesman for the interests and guarantor of the rights of all Muslims living in Bulgaria.
medical services, social insurance, education and labor. The main focus, however, is placed on the ethnic Our intention has been to avoid the political discourse, but during the interviews it has become clear
Turks. Purposeful cares are taken for their integration in the Bulgarian society, and special attention is that it is impossible. For the other communities predominant are organizations and unions of cultural,
paid to the so-called regions with mixed population. This stage characterizes with implementing a state religious and social character, but for the ethnic Turks there is a serious political mobilization. They think
policy for encouraging the ethnic Turks to acquire higher education and directing them towards profes- that maintaining their identity is possible almost only through an active political activity, which would
sional realization in the construction-engineering and some humanitarian areas. guarantee real mechanisms for protecting the universal rights. That is why the respondents point MRF as
This stage is considerably calm and the ethnic Turks are considered one of the minorities, which are the only organization, which expresses their interests. So, de facto, despite their numerousness, the ethnic
part of the Bulgarian state without problems. The predominating public attitudes among the Bulgar- Turks have no other legitimate for them organizations. The study also shows that the main focus of their
ians towards the ethnic Turks are that they are peaceful, hard-working, diligent people, cooperative and activity is protecting their civil and human rights, which concerns implementing certain policies and ac-
neighborly. Difference is made concerning the Bulgarian Mohammedans, who are referred as more closed tive involvement in the political life of the country.
community (compared with the ethnic Turks), following more strictly the norms of the Muslim religion The interviews show that this thesis is followed closest by the representatives of the ethnic Turks. They
and leading considerably more capsulated social life. Concerning the other Muslims (mostly students point MRF as the main institutional form of organizing the activities of the Muslim community in Bul-
and immigrants from the Arab countries), they are considered temporary residents and that is why the garia. Besides the existing national organs, MRF has a perfectly working national network of regional
expectations for their integration in the Bulgarian society are reduced to following the legislation and the and local structures (organization units). They range the local active members of MRF who, on the other
general norms of public life. hand, work with different parts of the local population. In the context of the MRF goals, the tactics of
The first stage is accompanied with weaker development of the organizational life among the Muslims carrying out active political and pre-election campaigns sounds logical. MRF is part of the national Par-
in Bulgaria. Practically, the ethnic Turks are rather a part of the cultural and social life of the Bulgarians liament; it is actively represented in the local municipal councils, in some cases the governments of the
– the Bulgarian language is leading among them, the children study in the schools in Bulgarian, they country have formed mandates in coalition with MRF as well. In the last 3-4 years MRF marks a gradual
are actively attracted in the forms of cultural and community-centers activity. Some respondents men- expansion of its voters, mostly through attracting the Roma with Muslim religion, as well as through
tion the existence of different forms of cultural life, but as a whole in this period the ethnic Turks follow attracting representatives of the Bulgarians. The MRF leaders impose the image of the movement as a
a “delicate”, unostentatious exposing of their own religious identity. Maintaining cultural traditions and balance of the political life of the country.
handing down the religious rituals from generation to generation happens without much noise, in the Another important organization, which supports the Muslim community’s identity, is the Head Mufti’s
families. The Bulgarians from the regions with mixed population show moderate interest in the rituals of Office. According to the respondents, the most correct definition of the Head Mufti’s Office is a religious
the Muslims and, compared with the Bulgarians from the other regions of the country, know the Mus- institute of the Muslims in Bulgaria, which organizes their religious life. The Mufti’s Office organizes
lims symbols better. religious education. Such are mainly Qur’an courses, as well as education helping people of all generations
Abrupt change in the positioning of the Muslim community in the Bulgarian context occurs in the end to understand the Muslim religion. Special attention is drawn to the involvement of young people in the
of 1970s and the beginning of 1980s with the carrying out of the so-called regeneration process. Accord- Qur’an courses and their introduction to the main ethic and moral norms concerning following the reli-
ing to the interviewed people, it is the period of a birth of illegal formations, which gradually crystallize gion. Maintaining the Muslim traditions and handing over the attitude of learning the Muslim religion
in the form of a movement of the Turks and Muslims for restoration of their rights. The respondents talk is a responsibility of the older generations. Parents and elderly people are the active ones who motivate the
carefully about this period, not hiding their deep disappointment from the exercised upon them violence. children and young people to acquire religious education. In the Bulgarian school system the religious
They talk about the inevitable changes in the way of thinking of the ethnic Turks, who, in response to education is an optional subject. Some of the parents direct their children to this type of education since
their rights being taken away, choose the moving to Turkey. In this second stage the public attitudes to the early age. Only few of the parents leave this choice to their children. In the most liberal cases the children
Muslim community in Bulgaria “turn” diametrically. Ethnic intolerance and hostile attitude – equally turn to especially carried out summer schools for religious education.
strong in both directions (Bulgarian – Muslims and vice versa), gradually generate. The years of the so- The representatives of the Head Mufti’s Office see their function mostly as an institute, which shows
called regeneration process are a serious ordeal for the Bulgarian society: the existing peaceful inter-ethnic the way of spiritual enlightenment but without claims to control or correct the behavior of people. The
attitudes are destroyed, many challenges to the social peace rise, and in the regions with mixed popula- desire of the Head Mufti’s Office is to provide spiritual support to the Muslims in Bulgaria. According
tion conflicts occur. In this situation emerges the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), which to the respondents, the meaning of the religious education is to teach people the main knowledge and
sets its primary goal to fight for restoring and protecting the rights of the ethnic Turks and Muslims in skills for spiritual understanding of the others, because “only through understanding the others you can
Bulgaria. understand yourself”.
After 10th November 1989, the Muslim community in Bulgaria gets its second chance. Formally, it is the In this connection, we will only sketch the existing of serious communication stereotypes in the line of

18 19

the internal religious differences between the sub-groups in the Muslim community. The difference goes The involved in them young people are satisfied because in this way they acquire the necessary knowledge
on the line “Sunni – Shia” and exists even in the relations of the young people. For example, if a Sunni and skills, increase their competences and become socially more adaptive.
girl wants to marry a Shia boy, it is not well accepted by the older generations and the parents of the girl The selection of the young people with potential and qualities for participation in the management struc-
need time to admit this fact. The result is breaking family connections and creating personal tensions. The tures is an important component of the work of the youth MRF. They are monitored since early age and
overcoming of such inter-community conflicts on religious principle is very difficult. However, the fact are gradually involved in different forms of education. At more mature age they are involved in seminars
that more and more young people dare to follow this road shows that there is a new type of inter-personal for developing political skills, media work skills, skills for presenting the interests of the community to
attitudes and a desire to overcome the existing stereotypes. the public. The best represented young people are sponsored and acquire education in Turkey, after that
According to the respondents, during the totalitarian regime certain withdrawal from the religion has they come back to Bulgaria and participate in the different areas of the social and economic life. Each
existed. On one hand, it is explained with the desire of the Muslims to avoid confronting other commu- year between 50 and 80 young people go to Turkey to study in different Bachelor and Master’s programs.
nities. On the other hand, the reason is the desire of the ethnic Turks to integrate more successfully in Kazakhstan is another possible destination for acquiring education. Although fewer in number, some
the Bulgarian society. The “regeneration” process is considered a turning point, after which the Muslims young people go to West-European universities (for example the members of the Parliament Chetin and
again turn to the religion. The comparison shows that today the ethnic Turks and Bulgarian Moham- Metin Kazak have graduated Law in France).
medans are much more devoted followers of their religion than their parents. For example, some of our This shows that the youth MRF participates really in the process of creating and nominating young peo-
youngest respondents state that they have visited with interest the Qur’an courses, that it has not been an ple for managing positions. At the moment the youth MRF has its representatives in the European Parlia-
obligation for them but a curious experience, which has helped them find their own uniqueness. ment, many mayors, municipality counselors. During the government of Sergei Stanishev, many people
The youth in the Muslim community is organizationally ranged by the youth organization of MRF. The who are associated with the youth MRF have been engaged in many ministries.
latter emerges as a result of the existing till mid-1990s youth clubs and youth women societies. In 1997 Although the political activity is the main focus in the work of the youth MRF, many efforts are placed
youth organization on national scale is formed, and according to the last changes in the Regulation for in maintaining cultural societies, dance groups, publishing newspapers, journals. For this purpose are
functioning of MRF, the youth MRF acquires autonomous status in the frames of the MRF party. The promoted non-governmental organizations, which work individually and have clearly defined tasks for
membership in the youth organization is optional. It has structures in the whole country, in all regions, the development of the Muslim community. Other initiatives are created as forms of amateur activities
totally in over 180 municipalities. The ethnic and religious structure of the members is different, deter- at the local community centers.
mined by the specifics of the region. For example, in North-West and West Bulgaria there are structures The youth MRF draws special attention to its international activity. It is organized through membership
consisting mostly of ethnic Bulgarians and Roma. In the Rodopi mountain, Gotse Delchev, Blagoevgrad, in international youth liberal organizations on global and European level, as well as on the Balkans. Here
the structures of the organization consist of Bulgarian Mohammedans. In other regions, like Kurdjali for are mentioned two organizations – IFLRY, which organizes the Muslim activity globally, and LYMEC,
example, the ethnic Turks predominate. At the moment the members of the youth MRF are about 18 000 which is directed towards the youth in Europe. The ethnic Turks in Bulgaria outline that by number of
– 19 000 people, aged from 18 to 35. members they are the largest youth liberal structure – member of LYMEC. Their participation in this Eu-
The young people in MRF participate actively in the inter-party political life, including in the manage- ropean community provides them a resource and ideological opportunities for exchange, different semi-
ment organs. According to the respondents, one of the main directions in their work is participation in nars, trainings, social youth activities, sport and cultural events. There are good traditions of exchange
the preparation of the pre-election campaigns. The young people work with great desire and take their with youth groups in Italy and Romania.
tasks as an opportunity to prove their loyalty and to contribute to the strengthening of the community.
The youth MRF has its representatives in the National Youth Union, which insures them additional pub-
licity on national level.
Different forms of education are organized for the young people. Seminars and short-term schools are car-
II. Relations with Other Religious Communities and with the State/Local Authorities
ried out for preparing projects on the structural EU funds. Special attention is drawn to acquiring skills There are differences inside the Muslim community, without clear conflicts – on personal level as well as
for starting own business, developing employment on local level. The more ambitious young people start on level institutions and organizations. Socially acceptable behavior of tolerance and mutual respect of the
practicing in the information offices of the members of the European Parliament. interests of others is maintained. It is difficult to talk about coherence and common interests between the
Many of the seminars are dedicated to the development of the inter-ethnic tolerance and successful inter- different sub-groups. Rather, the different groups develop own organizations, carry out own policies, to
ethnic dialogue. This type of educational modules is prepared mainly for the young people, but middle- which they attract representatives of different ethnic groups, develop own specific projects.
aged people also participate in the seminars. On regional level projects for providing services to socially As a whole, there are no stable and permanent relations with other religious communities in Bulgaria.
weak people are realized. Most demanded services are the social kitchens for elderly people. Certain organizational steps are taken, but they have sporadic character and that is why the results are
Many of these initiatives are directed towards satisfying concrete needs of the young people. Many local still quite modest.
projects for creating information centers, internet centers, computer training centers, have been realized. In the last two years the youth MRF has undertaken steps for joint activity with the Jewish community.
Developed are contacts with B’nai B’rith, which, as more right oriented organization, to a great extent cor-
responds to the political views of the young people in MRF. To this moment three meetings have been
 The Muslims in Bulgaria (by 2001 data) are 966 978 people, most of them are Sunni – 913 957, and Alevi (Shia), also called Qizilbash, organized between the representatives of both communities, as well as some training seminars, sponsored
are 53 021 people. by Friedrich Naumann Foundation. The goal is ice-breaking, discussing the specifics of the religious prefer-

20 21

ences, the common problems of both communities, and searching for contact points for carrying out joint They are aware that compared with other European countries Bulgaria provides much better general con-
activities in the frames of the Bulgarian legislation and the generally accepted norms of public talking. ditions, but nevertheless they state that lately they do not feel certain and calm. The respondents say that
MRF representatives outline that they search for contacts with other religious communities as well, and the cases when the economic police investigates businessmen, who donate during Bayram and holidays,
they are oriented towards the youth political parties, or if there are no such – they look for the youth have increased. They also think that now there is more abrupt and severe control for deceptions.
political wings. For example, attempts are made for establishing relations with the Armenian community The reason for this is the new redistribution in the power centers and MRF going in opposition. Accord-
but so far there is no particular success. ing to the leaders of the youth MRF, lately there is a clear tendency of dismissing their specialists not only
It is noticeable that at this stage the work on concrete projects is preferred. This gives more certain basis on national level, but also on the so-called middle management level, and this is considered by some of
for achieving cooperation and common goals. For example, together with the Jewish community some the respondents as a direct threat.
concrete projects for the cultural diversity and ethnic dialogue have been realized. The problems of the ethnic Turks are clearly economical. The respondents refer to the poverty and the
In 2008 a Council of religious communities in Bulgaria is created, which involves representatives of the low incomes as one of the most serious motives for creating negative attitudes among the ethnic Turks
main religions in the country. The creation of such council is considered a good premise for the devel- and the Bulgarian Mohammedans. Since they cannot find steady income sources, many of them turn to
opment of the inter-religion and inter-ethnic dialogue. At this stage there are not many achievements, Turkey. And although they feel Bulgaria their motherland, they prefer to work in Turkey so they can be
but the fact that representatives of the different communities sit at the same table and talk, is considered better provided materially. The young people in the smaller settlements face this problem the strongest.
already a serious progress. According to the respondents, it is still early to talk about organizing more These are economically undeveloped small towns and villages, where there is no opportunity to acquire
significant joint campaigns. Efforts are necessary to clear the accumulated misunderstandings between good education and work. “Those people cannot continue further their development and they drop out
some of the communities, and just then joint actions can be taken. or remain in the village. Many go abroad, where they have seasonal work and not always legal work. In
Still, at this stage, the young people from the Muslim and Jewish communities could search for con- Turkey they go to relatives to look for work. Those in the big towns, where there is an opportunity for
tact points of action. For example, the solving of some common serious problems, environment, social education, have no problem. They study, they speak the language well.”
problems, poverty are such points. The civil activity for religious education in schools, campaigns for In this light we should not be surprised by the fact that, according to the respondents, more and more
overcoming the negative atmosphere from the recurrences of anti-Semitism and Islam-phobia, could be ethnic Turks from the youngest generations go to other countries in Western Europe, America, etc. “The
successfully developed. young people see their home where they feel good and have good incomes.” The Muslims are considered
Concerning the connections of the Muslim community with the state and the local authority, without some of the most mobile workers. The interviews confirm this thesis, as well as the fact that the main
repeating the already mentioned so far, we will summarize the main conclusion. reason for the high mobility among the ethnic Turks is the search for means of support and higher in-
Both main institutions – MRF and Head Mufti’s Office – carry out a purposeful, effective work among comes.
the Muslims in Bulgaria, and thanks to these efforts today the Muslim community is among the best At the same time, the young people from MRF are bearers of new culture and definitely believe that one
organized minorities in the country. Those two institutions realize the connections of the community of the important premises for the successful integration in the Bulgarian society is learning/speaking Bul-
with the state and its institutions. garian language. They defend the position that the education of the Muslim children should be carried
In the last governments the representatives of the Muslim community have real chance and are involved out in Bulgarian: “We think that it is more right the education to be in Bulgarian, it should be in Bulgar-
actively with its staff in the governance of the country – on national level, as well as on local level. The ian so they can integrate and later have the opportunity to find good job, learn languages. In general there
young people consider their participation in the administration of different ministries as their indisput- is high interest, and the Turks have always encouraged their children to acquire higher education.”
able achievement. The young Muslims have very much developed the notion that knowing Bulgarian language gives them
an even chance to acquire good education and high-income job in the Bulgarian society. That is why they
strive for education in the frames of the Bulgarian educational system. They are also very open to the
world and use the opportunities for quality education in other European and Asian countries.
III. Interactions with the Social Context
Due to its heterogeneity, the Muslim community has specific interactions with the social context. The
ethnic Turks, Bulgarian Mohammedans, and Roma with Muslim religion, face the most serious prob-
lems. IV. Public Opinion and Prejudices
Despite the high degree of integration, the Muslim community (mostly the ethnic Turks) faces problems The attitudes and feelings towards the Muslim community in Bulgaria are quite multi-directional and
and challenges. According to the interviewed people, the main source of these problems is the ethnic and dynamic.
religious confrontation, the attempts for political isolation of the representatives of the ethnic Turks and According to the respondents, in the last few years there is an increase of the xenophobic acts, and the
their non-admission in the managing structures of certain ministries. acts of anti-Islamism become more daring. The original talks are provided by “Ataka”, which is the main
The respondents talk carefully. Still, they declare their feeling of increasing uncertainty and discomfort. propagator of anti-Islamic patterns of thinking. New “contribution” to the confirming of this rhetoric has
“Order, Legality, Justice”, which representatives are even more severe opponents of the ethnic peace in the
country, according to the respondents.
 See page 12. One of the direct results of such talks is the creation of stronger and stronger attitudes among the Bul-

22 23

garians against people speaking Turkish on public places. The respondents share that they are subject of ably rude language. Allowing such broadcasts to air has a double negative effect. On one hand, it leads to
rude comments and remarks, even aggression. “For example, I have had guests from Turkey. They do not increased anti-Islamic attitudes in the public. On the other hand, it creates in the Muslims the feeling of
speak Bulgarian, it is normal, they have forgotten it with the time. We sit at a café. It is a public place, I threat, uncertainty and social discomfort.
understand that we should talk in Bulgarian, but when there is no other way – how to do it? The other The representatives of the ethnic Turks appeal to the state to interfere more actively and to restrain the
people give us remarks. They make offensive comments, etc.” … “I have had a case when people tell me existing offensive political rhetoric. At the same time, they think that the mutual understanding of the
“Go and put on the head-cloth or the veil.” This is said by young people, mostly young. This is the shock- different ethnic groups is in the basis of the multi-ethnic tolerance. The minorities, as well as the majority,
ing part.” should show more desire to educate on the matters of the ethnic peace and to understand the principles
The activities of different neo-fascist formations and youth groups (like skinheads, for example), who of successful ethnic dialogue. As the respondents mention, Bulgaria has a great heritage of historically
desecrate the religious symbols of the Jews and Muslims, become possible again because of the mentioned successful peaceful model of ethnic co-existence. This model should be reproduced carefully and should
reasons. “We have regional units, which report us different cases of vandalism – drawing on the walls of not be destroyed under the influence of some global tendencies and discrimination attitudes towards the
the mosques, drawn swastikas, offensive words, etc. This shows that those things are not gone.” … “There Muslim community.
are many attacks against mosques, arsons included, and not one case has been solved.” In this connection, the young people can play a substantial role, because they are considerably most open
Logically, these acts are considered equally alarming on informal level (by the ordinary Muslims) and by to searching mutual contact points. Their natural attitudes of synergy are a good basis for the develop-
the institutions presenting MRF. ment of inter-ethnic dialogue.
According to the respondents, allowing aggressive political anti-Islamic rhetoric is quite dangerous, be-
cause in the minds of the people the memories of the “regeneration” process still live. “The regeneration
process has left lasting marks in the people’s minds. The young generation seems to try to overcome this
thing, and has no revenging attitude. But the recurrences continue. Now there is certain psychosis of fear
in the people. Especially when certain political circles put on the agenda the Islam-phobia, Turkism, etc.,
like “Ataka”, “Order, Legality, Justice”, etc. This maintains the psychosis of fear in the people.”
The running processes of increased anti-Islamism are noticeable on all levels. On level formal organiza-
tions – it is the clear public rhetoric of some political parties. On level administration – the discrimination
acts are reduced to quiet but firm rejection of hiring ethnic Turks on positions with power and other re-
source. Among the employers there is a tendency to reject the job applicants who are ethnic Turks, which
is a serious discrimination act on ethnic principle. “Concerning job application – again, when certain
people see in your resume a Turkish name, you can forget about it.” The problem is strongest when people
apply to work in the structures of certain ministries. “If we go now and see the structures of the Ministry
of Defense, Ministry of Internal Affairs, the offices and other ministries, they still have stereotypes, and
those people (the ethnic Turks) are considered unreliable.”
These phenomena give reasons to the respondents to suggest that the integration will be replaced with
new disintegration processes. One of the closest results will probably be the increased desire of the young
people to leave the country and look for living somewhere, where they are accepted: “Even now I think
there will be a period of disintegration. Many young people will leave the country or will feel uncomfort-
able in their own country.”
According to the respondents, the more significant problem is the weak sensitivity of the public towards
the acts of discrimination towards the ethnic Turks. “You see how the discriminating, offensive language
is normal and I think there is no sensitivity to it neither in the media, nor in the printed media.” There
is no such sensitivity on all levels – institutions, informal communication. The ethnic Turks have strong
political representation, but all the time they fight with the acts of disrespect – even by the members of
Parliament from certain political circles. It seems that people talk in different meaning languages, often
there is a direct confrontation of values and cultures, the voice of reason cannot be heard.
Concerning the role of the media in creating the public opinion about the Muslims, the interviewed peo-
ple unite with the notion that there are media, which actively contribute to creating anti-Islamic attitudes.
As such example is mentioned the SKAT TV channel and the broadcasts of Volen Siderov. According to
the respondents, those are strongly discriminating broadcasts, with very offensive rhetoric and inexcus-

24 25

Organization, Social Practices and Problems of Jewish and

Muslim Communities in Germany

Editor: CGIL-Bildungswerk

Numerical levels of monotheistic denominations in Germany.......................................................28
Christian, Jewish and Muslim organizations in Germany ............................................................ 32
The political - intercultural dialogue ............................................................................................ 39
The inter-religious dialogue...........................................................................................................42


Introduction The German Catholic Church encompasses seven ecclesiastical provinces, with 27 dioceses.
Roman Catholics currently account for 31% of Germany’s total population (i.e. about 25.5 million peo-
This research aims at providing a first classification of the subject matter. ple); 14% of them (i.e. about 3.492 million people) are practicing Christians.
The Catholic strongholds are located in Southern and Western Germany; Bavaria (56.3%) and Saarland
(65.1%) are the two Catholic-majority Länder.

1. Numerical levels of monotheistic denominations in Germany Christianity: Evangelical denomination

Martin Luther started the Protestant Reformation in Saxony in the 16th century, giving rise to the Chris-
The monotheistic denomination structure in Germany tian Evangelical denomination.
According to the current data, Evangelicals account for around 30% of Germany’s total population (i.e.
about 24.8 million people).
Hebraism The number of German Evangelical Church members is about 1% lower than that of Christian Catholics;
the Evangelical Church includes the Lutheran, Reformed and United Evangelical Churches.
Hebraism has been present in Germany longer than any other denomination. The historical record shows
Evangelicals prevail in North-Eastern Germany. Before the German Democratic Republic was created,
that the first Jewish communities had already settled the left bank of the Rhine by the 1st century B.C.
Eastern Germany was also mostly Evangelical.
Jews achieved full civil and economic equality in Prussia in 1812, and in Austria in 1871. In the years
The Northern Länder Schleswig-Holstein (54.3%) and Lower Saxony (50.8%) are the two Evangelical-
up to 1933, when the Nazis came to power, most Jews became integrated; their contributions to science,
majority areas.
literature and medicine were huge, and not limited to Germany alone.
During the Nazi period, the German Jewish community was destroyed and wiped out. By the end of the
Nazi dictatorship, about 6 million European Jews had been murdered.
After 1945, new Jewish communities were founded and new synagogues were built in many cities. While Christianity: Orthodox denomination
about 500,000 Jews lived Germany before 1933, only 15,000 were still in the country 1950, and 45,000 This denomination was brought to Germany by migrants. The first Orthodox churches were built in the
in 1992. Starting in 1989, with the fall of the Berlin wall and the associated political watershed, the 19th century, mainly in the places of residence of those Royals who had family ties with Eastern Europe,
number of Jews living in Germany increased significantly, mostly due to Jewish immigration from East- e.g. in Wiesbaden, Darmstadt, Bad Homburg, Potsdam or Weimar.
ern Europe (particularly from Ukraine, Russia, Moldova and Uzbekistan). Germany currently hosts about 1.5 - 2 million Orthodox Christians; they are mostly Greeks, followed
Around 200,000 Jews currently live in Germany; about 90,000 of them do not practice their faith nor are by Russians, Rumanians, Serbians and Bulgarians. About 408,000 Orthodox Christians are German
they members of any religious community (relative to the Jewish canon, the religious denomination of the nationals.
large majority of Eastern Europe immigrants is unclear). About 107,000 - 120,000 people, among which German Orthodox Christians are well organized, and are represented by the Dortmund-headquartered
around 101,000 Eastern European immigrants, belong to some religious community. Over 107 commu- Committee of the Orthodox Churches of Germany (Kommission der Orthodoxen Kirche in Deutsch-
nities and 23 regional associations (Landesverbände), accounting for about 107,000 - 120,000 practising land – Verband der Diözesen, KokiD).
Jews, are members of the Central Council of Jews in Germany (Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland,
ZJD), the largest active Jewish representative body in Germany. The Council covers the whole spectrum
of German Jewish communities, from orthodox to reformed and from conservative to liberal.
About 5,000 progressive Jews are members of a non-orthodox Jewish organization named Union of Pro- Islam
gressive Jews in Germany (Union progressiver Juden, UpJ), whose communities and regional associations As there are no official figures, only estimates are available for all of the religious denominations such as
are also (at least partially) represented within the Central Council of Jews in Germany (Zentralrat der Islam, which do not belong to any public body.
Juden in Deutschland). About 3.5 million Muslims live in Germany, i.e. around 4% of the total population. Most of them are not
of German origin. Turks make up the largest nationality group, with a large majority of Sunnis, followed
by Bosnians. About 1 million Muslims living in Germany hold a German passport; among them, around
Christianity: Catholic denomination 15,000 are of German origin (i.e. converted). The first mosque was built in Berlin in 1924. Muslims are
mostly Sunni (about 2,640,000 people), with a somewhat large Alevite minority (around 400,000 people)
The first evidence of a Christian diocese in Germany, and specifically in Trier, dates back to the 3rd of predominantly Kurdish origin.
century A.D. Up to the Protestant Reformation, Hebraism and Christianity were thus the only religious
denominations existing in Germany.

28 29
As discussed above, 500,000 Jews lived in Germany before 1933, but only 45,000 in 1992. After the
Numerical levels of monotheistic denominations in Germany
fall of the Berlin wall, in 1989, the numbers of both Jews and Jewish communities displayed a sharp
Denomination Membership Percentage of population rise in Germany, owing to the immigration of Jews from Eastern Europe (mainly from Ukraine, Russia,
Roman Catholic Church 25.461.118 31,00 % Moldova, and Uzbekistan), reaching the current figure of 200,000.
Evangelical Church 24.832.110 30,2 %
Denomination development between 1950 and 2005 (percentage of total population)
Islam 3.500.000 4,26 %
Year Evangelicals Catholics No confession Muslims Jews
Orthodox Church 1.500.000-2.000.000 1,8-2,4 %
Hebraism 107.000 - 90.000 0, 24 % West Germany 50,6 % 45,8 % X X

Table 1 1961
51,1 %
West Germany 45,5 % X x

West Germany 49,0 % 44,6 % 3,9 % 1,3 %
II. Monotheistic denomination dynamics in Germany 1987
West Germany 41,6 % 42,9 % 11,4 % 2,7 %
From a juridical standpoint, there are no superior religious denominations in Germany. Since the Ref-
ormation, Germans have been either Protestants (German Evangelical Church) or Catholics (Roman 1990 Unified Germany
36,9 % 35,4 % 22,4 % 3,7 %
Catholic Church). Around 31% of Germans are Catholics, and about as many Evangelicals. As discussed
above, both Hebraism and Orthodoxy are fare less widespread. Unified Germany 31,3 % 31,3 % 31, 8 % 3,9 %

It is worth noting that about 32.5% of Germans belong to no religious communities. The share of people Unified Germany 31,0 % 31,1 % 32,3 % 3,9 %

with no religious denomination is thus about twice the international average; besides the growing laici- 2005
Unified Germany 30,8 % 31,0 % 32,5 % 3,9 % 0,24 %
sation, the anti-clerical and anti-ecclesiastical history of the German Democratic Republic also heavily
Source: fowid
contributed to such a figure.
In the German Democratic Republic, religious community members were subject to professional or so- Table 2
cial discriminations, so that many people abandoned their religious denominations. Their children didn’t
automatically belong to a religious community either.
Jewish community developments in Germany
According to a research carried out in 2007 by Bertelsmann-Stiftung, 68% of Eastern Germans and 15%
of Western Germans currently belong to no religious community. After the political watershed of 1989, Jewish communities quickly expanded. Their membership went
Before 1950, nearly all Germans belonged to one. Since then, the number of people with no denomina- from 15,920 in 1955 to 105,773 in 2004, with a growth rate close to 700%.
tion has been steadily rising; today, they make up about 1/3 of the total population. The Eastern European immigrant breakdown by demographic group is characterized by a large share of
As a result of migrations, Muslims are actually the third religious denomination of the country, with a young people, with the 17 - 21 age group growing the fastest. The number of young people aged 17 to 21
4% share of the total population. quadrupled between 1989 and 2005 (from 1,229 to nearly 6,000 people). Over the same years, only the
It is worth pointing out that the religious denomination mix is changing, too: the two major denomi- group of people aged 51 to 60 displayed a faster growth, reaching 16,803 people (over the quintuple of
nations are slowly but steadily losing their members, while statistical data confirm that the number of the initial figure).
Muslims is increasing.
In 2007, the Catholic Church lost 223,772 members over the previous year (according to the data, 221.018 In 2003, 3.029 people left or quit the Jewish communities.
members were lost in 2006), and the Evangelical Church 268.627 (251,891 in 2006); new population
Year 1955 1965 1989/1990 1994 2004/2005
dynamics data, however, suggest that the number of people joining o re-joining the two major denomina-
Total number of Jews belonging to Jewish
tions is about to increase. communities
15.920 25.920 29.000 45.000 105.700

People who leave the two major denominations offer such rationales as lack of personal identification with Percentage of immigrants from eastern Europe 3,47 % 89 %
the church religious values and rules, lack of faith and the church tax.
Total number of Jews belonging to Jewish
Islam, on the contrary, is growing in importance in the country because of immigration and birth rates: communities after subtracting immigrants from 28.000 11.000
Eastern Europe
9.2% of the children who were born in Germany in 2004, and 10% of those who were born in the coun-
try in 2005, have a Muslim mother. Table 3

30 31

III. Religious organizations in Germany an active and recognized member of the executive bodies of various international Jewish organizations,
such as the World Jewish Congress, the European Jewish Congress, the World Jewish Restitution Organi-
sation, and the Conference on Jewish Material Claims against Germany.
Christian organizations in Germany
The Council has created various over-regional organizations and institutions, such as the Research In-
Arbeitsgemeinschaft christlicher Kirchen in Deutschland stitute for the History of Jews in Germany (Zentralarchiv zur Erforschung der Geschichte der Juden in
(Council of Christian Churches in Germany) Deutschland), the College of Jewish Studies in Heidelberg (Hochschule für jüdische Studien in Heidel-
The Council is the representative body of the Christian Churches of Germany; it aims at promoting the berg), which provides training for Jewish organization experts and German Jewish community rabbis,
unity of Christians. It represents 16 Christian denominations, and therefore a broad spectrum of the the independent weekly magazine for Jewish life in Germany and in the world (Jüdische Allgemeine),
ecumenical council; it takes part in political and public discussions. The Council was set up in 1948 to a religious court (Schieds- und Verwaltungsgericht des Zentralrats), the Association of Jewish Women
foster unity among the churches; indeed, during World War II the Christian Churches couldn’t act in a in Germany (Bund jüdischer Frauen in Deutschland), the Federal Union of Jewish Students (Bundes-
concerted way. verband jüdischer Studenten), and the National Sporting Association (Bundessportverband MAKKABI
Deutschland e.V.).
Kommission der Orthodoxen Kirche in Deutschland
(KOKID, Committee of the Orthodox Churches of Germany) Union progressiver Juden in Deutschland
The committee was set up in 1994, is headquartered in Dortmund, and it represents all the Orthodox (UpJ, Union of Progressive Jews in Germany)
dioceses of Germany both before the State and in the ecumenical, social and cultural areas. Starting in 1990, Jewish communities have rapidly expanded due to the inflow of Jews from the former
Within the KOKID Committee, the Orthodoxer Jugendbund Deutschland is the national association of Soviet Union countries. Part of this group of Jews expressed a persistent criticism of the religious or-
Orthodox youth . thodoxy they found within the existing German Jewish communities. Liberal communities were thus
created starting in 1995; these are characterized by prayer language equality, whereby some parts of the
ceremonies are held in the worshippers’ mother tongue, gender equality in the ceremonies and no gender
separation during the mass.
Jewish organizations in Germany
In Germany, the two major Jewish institutions are the Central Council of Jews in Germany (Zentralrat As a result of such dissatisfaction, a progressive religious association was created in Munich in 1997,
der Juden in Deutschland), established in 1950 and currently representing around 120,000 practising namely the Union of Progressive Jews in Germany (Union progressiver Juden in Deutschland, UpJ),
Jews), and the Union of Progressive Jews in Germany (Union progressiver Juden, established in 1997, with representing about 3,000 - 5,000 people belonging to 22 progressive religious communities. The Union
3,000 - 5,000 members). progressiver Juden in Deutschland is headquartered in Hanover, and it is chaired by Dr. Jan Mühlstein;
its steering committee is staffed by members of the Jewish communities embodying liberal and progres-
Zentralrat der Juden Deutschland sive Hebraism.
(ZJD, Central Council of Jews in Germany) In 2000, the Union created its own scientific workshop for rabbis (Abraham Geiger Kolleg), the first of
The Central Council of Jews in Germany (Zentralrat der Juden) is the top-level body of the German Jew- its kind to be set up in Germany after the Shoah.
ish communities and of their regional organizations. The Council was set up in 1950 in Frankfurt am
Main, where 15,000 Jews lived, but has been headquartered in Berlin since 1999. Today, as in the past, The relationship between the Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland (ZJD) and the Union progressiver Ju-
the Council aims at promoting the religious and cultural life within the Jewish communities, as well as den in Deutschland (UpJ) is currently one of partial cooperation, e.g. the opportunity (from 2004 only)
at representing the German Jewish community political interests. Its main activities initially consisted in for the liberal Jewish communities to take part in some activities, programs and projects organized by the
creating, or re-creating, the synagogues and the communities after the end of the Nazi period. The Coun- Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland, a common convention of non-orthodox rabbis and a joint religious
cil’s main goal was then to have the Government approve a redress and compensation legislation. court (Beth Din) ruling on religious matters, and especially on the approval of conversions to Hebraism.
The first years after the UpJ creation, on the contrary, focused on the principle of a single community
Besides representing the interests of the Jewish people living in Germany, the Council is currently also involving all the religious groups and on the claim to the exclusive representation of the German Jewish
taking care of integrating the Jewish immigrants coming from the former Soviet Union. The Zentralrat community; they were mostly characterized by a fierce argument on the sharing of the subsidies (För-
der Juden in Deutschland integration initiatives focus on setting up Jewish communities in the former dergelder) provided by the State under the agreement the Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland had signed
East Germany and on organizing vocational training workshops, language courses, political training, with the Federal Government in 2003.
religion lessons, etc. The Council takes active part in the Federal Republic social and political life, mainly
by promoting dialogue and mutual respect between the Jewish minority and the other German popula- In the media, the Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland, chaired by Charlotte Knobloch, is definitely the
tion groups. higher profile and more influential dialogue partner.
At the European level, the Council has close ties with the Jewish communities abroad and in Israel. It is

32 33

Arzenu Deutschland interviewed, photographed and filmed young Jews all over Germany. The resulting materials have also
(Arzenu Germany) been used for a book and a documentary film called “Fisch und Vogel” (Fish and bird).
The progressive Zionist organization Arzenu Deutschland was set up in Munich in 2005 within the
Union of Progressive Jews in Germany (UpJ), and it represents the Zionist position of the Union. Arzenu
Deutschland is a member of the German Zionist organization Zionistische Organisation in Deutschland
and of the Arzenu International Federation. Muslim organizations in Germany
The following paragraphs provide a brief description of the major Muslim central associations and organi-
zations in Germany. Muslim organizations can be set up under the Right to Association, but in order to
Jewish youth organizations do so they must acquire the juridical status of a religious community (per Pt. 3, Sect. 7, of the German Ba-
sic Law) or possibly of a Government body. Central organizations aim at better expressing and defending
Jung und Jüdisch Deutschland e.V. common interests before the Government bodies. The Muslim associations currently active in Germany
(Young and Jews in Germany) were created starting in the 1970s, and were heavily influenced by the political and religious events taking
In 2001, the young adults of the liberal communities created their own organization, named Jung und place in Turkey, particularly at the outset.
Jüdisch Deutschland, within the structure of the UpJ; the new organization is a member of the Netzer
Olami international youth movement of progressive Jews.
The young Jews belonging to the liberal communities were dissatisfied; actually, they were not allowed a) Turkish - Muslim associations
to take part in the activities of the existing and recognized associations (e.g. the BJSD Federal Union of
Jewish Students in Germany described below); furthermore, their interests and needs didn’t fit in the Verband der islamischen Kulturzentren e.V.
existing association stance. In 2001, therefore, they decided to create the Jung und Jüdisch Deutschland (VIKZ, Association of Islamic Cultural Centres)
organization within the liberal communities of Hanover and Cologne. The VIKZ was created in 1973, it represents a Sunni and mystical Islam, and it includes over 300
Jung und Jüdisch Deutschland aims at fostering a new, pluralistic Hebraism in Germany. The association communities.
pursues the principles of gender religious equality, a pluralistic Hebraism (equality of all religious cur-
rents) and the request to grant equal status to Jews of both matrilineal and patrilineal descent. Islamische Gemeinschaft Millî Görüş
(IGMG, Millî Görüş Islamic Community)
Two national conventions are arranged every year to allow young Jewish adults aged 18 to 35 to exchange The Millî Görüş Islamic Community (Islamische Gemeinschaft Millî Görüş, IGMG) was created in
views and updates. The creation of Jung und Jüdisch Deutschland local and regional groups in various 1975; it is part of the Millî Görüş Turkish movement of Necmettin Erbakan. Based on this, the Consti-
cities is another major area of activity. tutional Protection Report of 2007 defined it as an Islamic association, although it pointed out it wasn’t
Jewish children and teenagers aged 8 to 18 can join an organization of their own, named Jung und a homogeneous one. According to the above report, it has about 27,000 members, while according to the
Jüdisch –Junior (Junior Young and Jewish in Germany), whose activities consist in organizing Jewish IGMG statements it has over 87,000 members and about 323 mosques.
festivals, youth meetings, workshops, journeys to Israel and other destinations, international contacts, as
well as summer and winter camps; the Junior organization also trains young chaperons (Madrichim) who Türkisch-Islamische Union der Anstalt für Religion
are then assigned the task of introducing the younger into their progressive communities. (DITIB, Turkish Islamic Union for Religious Affairs) The Turkish Islamic Union for Religious Affairs (Türkisch-Islamische Union der Anstalt für Religion,
DITIB) was created in 1984; it is closely tied to the Turkish Facility for Religious Affairs (Diyanet İşleri
Bundesverband jüdischer Studenten in Deutschland e.V. Başkanlığı). With over 870 member associations, the DITIB is the largest central organization of Muslim
(BJSD, Federal Union of Jewish Students in Germany) denomination; it is the representative of a kind of Islam aligned with the official, laic Turkish Islam.
The BJSD is the national association of the Jewish youth and students aged 18 to 35; the BJSD was cre- Verein Alevitische Gemeinde in Deutschland e.V. (AABF, Alevitic Community Germany)
ated in 1968 within the Central Council of Jews in Germany (Zentralrat der Juden Deutschland), and is The AABF was created in 1986 as a central body; today, it represents about 120 associations and around
headquartered in Berlin. It aims at promoting Jewish identity in the individuals and at fostering contacts 20,000 registered members. The AABF regional branches of Northern Rhineland - Westphalia, Hesse,
among its members. Besides analysing political events both in Germany and abroad, the BJSD also takes Bavaria and Berlin have been recognized as religious communities (under Pt. 3, Sect. 7 of the German
stances in political discussions. Basic Law), and are therefore allowed to teach religion as a formal school subject.

The Communications and Design Department of the University of Konstanz has organized an interna-  Project Leader: Prof. Dr. Volker Friedrich - - Tel.: 0 75 31 / 206 - 659 - Fax: 0 75 31 / 206 - 855 - Kontakt:
tional exhibition on the Jüdische Jugend in Deutschland (Jewish Youth in Germany). Its students have

34 35

B) Multiethnic Muslim organizations Muslim youth organizations

Islamrat für die Bundesrepublik Deutschland e.V. In 2006, a book on young Muslims living in Germany was published (Julia Gerlach: Zwischen Pop
(IRD, Islamic Council for the Federal Republic of Germany) und Dschihad. Muslimische Jugendliche in Deutschland (Between Pop and Jihad. Muslim Youths in
The central national body of the IRD was created in 1986; today, 30 organizations belong to it. In 1988, Germany), Ch. Links Verlag 2006). Using the concept of “Pop-Islam”, the author describes the lifestyle
the VIKZ parted from it, while in 1990 it was joined by the IGMG; being its most influential member, of young Muslims living in Germany; it is a lifestyle of their own, and adopted of their own accord. The
the latter is the dominating association within the IRD. term Pop-Islam describes a situation, which is typical among the young, whereby Eastern and Western
Zentralrat der Muslime in Deutschland e.V. (ZMD, Central Council of Muslims in Germany) culture aspects are combined; according to the book, Pop-Islam is a global movement. Young Muslims
According to its own statements, the ZMD represents about 300 mosques; it has a high profile in the in Cairo, Singapore or Berlin identify themselves as a large international community, watch the same
media and it is a major public counterpart. The number of its members is relatively low, because the TV programs, listen to the same music and follow the same fashion trends. In most of the world, young
abovementioned large Turkish Islamic associations do not take part in it; this underscores the multiethnic Muslims display some common characteristics, such as turning to the Koran to make sense of their lives,
nature of this association. The ZMD is the top-level body of 19 central Muslim organizations and of sev- opposing the moral decadence of the West and criticizing the US policy in the Middle East. According
eral individual ones. The ZMD is a multiethnic organization, and it welcomes both Sunnis and Shiites, to the author, most of her young interviewees identify themselves with one of the young Muslim associa-
thereby representing the plurality of Muslims in Germany. Its official language is German. The ZMD tions, or set up one themselves, such as das Aktionsbündnis gegen Zwangsheirat, Projekt Ö, TANDEM,
primarily aims at promoting Muslim culture and religion in Germany, as well as the integration of Islam etc. Since most of the many existing associations were created abroad, the goals and the principles of their
and of Muslims within German society; it thus carries out both theological - social and political work. German branches are somewhat unclear, as well as highly heterogeneous (as is the case with the Muslim
One of its continuous objectives is to promote a kind of Islam which is adapted to the current European Brothers (Muslimbrüder), which is officially banned in many countries, or with the youth association
scenario. within the Milli Görüs Community, which is being monitored by the police). According to the author, a
very large majority of her young Muslim interviewees clearly distance themselves from any kind of mili-
The religious - social activities include the adherence to the Islamic calendar, to the prayer schedules and tancy or any sort of violence.
to the Islamic slaughtering rules, the creation of Islamic cemeteries, the improvement of Koran teaching As a further major point, young Muslims identify themselves with Germany, and want to publicly display
in the communities, information campaigns about security and terrorism, the creation of programs for their identity, which is partially German, too. Young people get organized in order to find out how to
Islamic religion classes in State-run schools, the provision of advising to families, women and parents, and integrate their religious identity with their social identity, as well as how to help other people go beyond
some educational work, particularly in kindergartens. the stereotypes on Islam, which the public feels as a hostile force.
A congress was held at the Loccum Evangelical Academy (Evangelische Akademie Loccum) in May
The ZMD is a major partner both in the public and political discussions and in the inter-religious dia- 2009. It showed Muslim youth culture potential for promoting the intercultural, political dialogue and
logue. Within this framework, two projects set up by the organization turned out to be very successful, Christian - Islamic reconciliation. The congress aimed at classifying the large number of young Muslim
namely “” and “”. Another highly successful activity provides a relevant contribution associations, their various contents and their perspectives, as well as at assessing the cooperation potential
to the dialogue and the communications between Muslims and non-Muslims, namely the “mosque open with other youth associations and with State and civil infrastructures; this is of particular relevance, as
day”, which was started in 1997. This initiative is supported by over 1,000 mosques, it involves about there are very few instances of cooperation between accredited (e.g. municipal) infrastructures or large
10,000 visitors, and it takes place on 3 October. This date coincides with the national holiday celebrating youth associations and Muslim youth organizations.
German reunification, and it was chosen to demonstrate that Muslims identify themselves with the Ger-
man society they live in. Muslimische Jugend in Deutschland e.V.
In 2002, the ZMD issued the Islamic Charter, which describes its relationship with society and the State. (MJD, Muslim Youth in Germany)
By identifying itself as an integral part of German society, the ZMD has included political subjects and The MJD is a national, independent association of young Muslims for young Muslims; it was created in
issues in its scope. The basic principles are the independence of ideologies, movements and political par- 1994, it is headquartered in Berlin and has over 250 members organized in about 30 local associations.
ties. ZMD activities are thus funded by membership dues and private donations. Its chairmanship is of Any young Muslim, or group of young Muslims, aged 13 to 30 can join the association. Males are females
honorary nature, and all activities are mostly funded by honorary member contributions. are separated; the MJD adopted German as its official language.
The MJD has an elected chairman, who remains in charge for two years. The association is a member of
Koordinationsrat der Muslime in Deutschland the Forum of European Muslim Youth and Student Organizations (FEMYSO). It aims at fostering cohe-
(KRM, Coordination Council of Muslims in Germany) sion and sharing among young Muslims, who are invited to practice Islam together and to deepen their
In 2007, four organizations, namely the VIKZ, the DITIB, the ZMD and the IRD, created a partnership knowledge of Muslim faith, as well as at supporting young Muslims who are victims of prejudices in their
they named Coordination Council of Muslims in Germany (Koordinationsrat der Muslime in Deutsch- daily lives, e.g. at school, in their vocational training, at work and in their studies. The association requires
land, KRM), which aims at representing the majority of the Sunni and Shiite mosque-going Muslims of young members to be actively and productively engaged in German society. As a representative of second-
Germany, and at acting as the central counterpart for State representatives. The KRM partner associa- and third-generation Muslims in Germany, a relevant subject within MJD activities is the creation of a
tions participate in the DIK dialogue between State and Muslim representatives, as described in Chapter deeper dialogue among religions, nations and cultures; this is mainly done by disseminating realistic in-

36 37

formation on Islam. The MJD association undertakes to cooperate with other young Christian, Jewish or man Muslims experience their faith, between ethics, tradition, lifestyle and, possibly, political ideology.
public associations and organizations; in the past few years, it has carried out several cooperative projects The association is interested in the current discussions among, and with, Muslims living in Germany
with other organizations, as well as intercultural and inter-religious programs, thanks also in part to State on such topics as the Middle East conflict, forced marriage and honour killings, anti-Semitism, Turk-
subsidies (e.g. project “Projekt P - misch disch ein”, which was aimed at promoting the involvement of ish nationalism, racism and Islam as an imaginary foe, or Islam classes in State schools. The association
young people and children politics). MJD activities are funded by means of donations, membership dues, intends to take part in shaping all this because “even though it is hard to understand and accept both for
the Green Palace publishing house proceedings, and some State money. The association organizes many the Islamists and for the defenders of the Christian West, Islam is part of ordinary daily life in Germany;
activities and events, and it promotes the political-intercultural and inter-religious dialogue. The work to many Muslims, German cities are their homeland”. issues a newsletter named Youth Culture,
carried out by MJD was recognized with an award by the Federal Ministry for the Family, the Elders, Religion and Democracy. Political Education for Young Muslims (Jugendkultur, Religion und Demokra-
Women and Youth in 2001, and by the Federal Ministry for Youth in 2002. The award was assigned tie. Politische Bildung mit jungen Muslimen).
“because the association is a relevant support centre for young Muslims, and it fosters the improvement of
public perception of Islam; it also takes part in the intercultural dialogue”. In 2002 and 2003, the Federal Bund der Alevitischen Jugendlichen in Deutschland e.V.
Ministry for the Family assigned the association some funding for the TA’RUF-Kennenlernen (TA’RUF (AAGB, Federation of Alevite Youth in Germany)
- Knowing Each Other) project against violence and right-wing extremism. The project aimed at training The AAGB is the independent youth branch of the above mentioned Alevitic Community Germany
young adults, both Muslims and non-Muslims, as intercultural mediators. Such funding was upheld after (Verein Alevitische Gemeinde Deutschland). It is a member of the German Youth National Association
the association made contact with the Muslim Brotherhood (Muslimbruderschaft), a banned Islamic as- (Deutscher Bundesjugendring), as well as of central organizations active in the anti-racism and intercul-
sociation, and after a small MJD subgroup published some anti-Semitic material. According to the Police tural area, such as the Informations- und Dokumentationszentrum für Antirassismusarbeit /Verein für
Department of Berlin, the association has close cooperation ties with Islamic groups, but is not mentioned internationalen und interkulturellen Austausch. It was created in 1993, and it now includes 5 regional
in the Department report. Meanwhile, the association keeps carrying out its work and its activities, which associations (including one in Hesse), as well as 120 local ones.
also include some discussions about the above mentioned issues, namely the publication of problematic
materials by the association and some unjustified, alarm-raising allegations. The MJD homepage (www. The AAGB aims at promoting work opportunities for the youth in the member associations. It focuses on lists and describes its various local groups, including the Lokalkreis Rhein Main group. such issues as integration policy, vocational training, racism, human rights, religious teaching in State-run
schools, nature conservation, and information campaigns on criminal activities, drugs and sex.
Lifemakers Deutschland The AAGB cooperates with other German youth groups to promote the peaceful coexistence among
(Lifemakers Germany) Germans and all the immigrants living in Germany. Its typical activities include projects concerned with
Lifemakers is the fastest-growing youth association among both Muslim and non-Muslim ones; it is folklore, training, politics, the Alevites, information on drugs and criminal activities, as well as intercul-
modelled after the Lifemakers movement set up by Amr Khaled in Egypt. The association has no clear tural activities (e.g. guided tours of the concentration camps).
structures, and is set up according to the place and the local context. Its basic point is simple, namely The association is a member of the steering group of the national program for young migrants set up by
“changing the world”. Lifemakers’ activities within Germany are mostly concerned with feeding the the Bertelsmann-Stiftung Foundation. Within this framework, the current chairman of the AAGB is
homeless, providing computer training to young unemployed people or paying visits to elders in Munich. one of the thirteen young interviewees of the book “Aufgeben ist nicht mein Weg” (Giving up is not my
Lifemakers is popular among many young Muslims because it allows them to integrate faith with action, choice).
as well as to build bridges. According to Mimoun (19) “If we do something for people, we will get kind-

Rat muslimischer Studierender und Akademiker

(RAMSA, Muslim Students and Graduates Association) II. The political - intercultural dialogue
Various university-level Muslim associations exist in several German cities. In May 2009, the RAMS As-
sociation organized a an inter-regional Week of Information on Islam (Islam-Infowoche), which focused According to a survey carried out in May 2006 by the Allensbach Research Centre of Germany, 42% of
on the religious life of European Muslims. the interviewees believe there will be a major terrorist attack in Germany, and that some terrorist hide
among the Muslims living in the country. Such fears support the segregation and the marginalization of Jugendkultur, Medien und politische Bildung in der Einwanderungsgesellschaft Muslims living in Germany. The political response must involve a dialogue aimed at jointly identifying is an association of Muslim youth in Germany; it is active in the fields of informa- the proper solutions to the country’s major integration issues. This dialogue must be concerned with such
tion, science and training on the job in order to spread “the message that Islam, and the over topics as the meaning of the word “German” and a shared definition of integration, the recognition of
3 million Muslims currently living in Germany, are an obvious and unquestionable part of Islam as a religious community under the Basic Law, and finally the strategies needed to guarantee the
German society, beyond the Islamic propaganda and the fears of Islamisation of the West”. large Muslim youth group equal opportunities in education, vocational training, employment, as well
Rather than providing information abut Islam, mainly focuses on analysing the way young Ger- as the introduction of Muslim religion as a teaching subject in German State schools, the respect of the

38 39

different backgrounds of pupils in school programs, as well as practical, feasible solutions concerning the of separation of church and State, all the activities where the State and the religious communities operate
use of the veil by civil servants. concurrently are governed by the law.
The current Government coalition holds an intense dialogue with the major Christian Churches, as well Team 3 takes care of economic and information projects aimed at promoting Muslim citizen integration,
as with the Jewish and Muslim communities. Besides promoting a policy of political training and integra- with particular focus on such topics as Muslim population disadvantage in education, vocational training
tion, this dialogue also aims at preventing and fighting racism, anti-Semitism and extremism. and employment, as well as the portrayal of Islam in the media.
Deutsche Islam Konferenz The Conversation Group deals with such topics as the Islamic threats to the FRG and the strategies
(DIK, German Islam Conference) aimed at improving the cooperation among Muslims, mosque associations and security agencies through
In the Fall of 2006, then FRG Minister of Interior Dr. Wolfgang Schäuble set up the German Islam the establishment of a national-level body coordinating and clearing all cooperation projects.
Conference (Deutsche Islam Konferenz, DIK) as a platform for the dialogue among the representatives As far as the State and Muslim representatives are concerned, the federal structure is present in all bodies,
of the State and of the German Muslims. With its slogan “Muslims in Germany - German Muslims”, with national-level representatives (Minister of Interior, Government Commissioner for Integration, etc.),
the Conference aims at promoting the feeling, among both Muslims and non-Muslims, that the Mus- regional-level ones (Länder Ministers) and municipality-level representatives. This ensures the participa-
lims living in Germany are an integral part of German society. The Conference has been assigned sev- tion of all the Government bodies needed to improve the coexistence between Muslims and the majority
eral tasks, namely improving the Muslim population religious- and socio-political integration, fighting of society.
Muslim marginalization and splitting in Germany, creating the constant consensus needed to respect The diversity of the 3.4 million Muslims living in Germany (who are partly of multiethnic origin, but
the religious- and socio-political principles, preserving the liberal-democratic constitutional system, and were mainly born in Germany) is preserved by Muslim representation within the DIK. Indeed, the Ple-
preventing Islamic and extremist militancy. num includes 5 representatives of the 5 central Muslim organizations (the four partners to the KRM and
the AABF Alevite central association), as well as 10 representatives coming from various areas of Muslim
The DIK Conference structure public life. The rationale for this breakdown is provided by the fact that about 10 - 15% of all Muslims
living in Germany belong to the 5 major national-level central Muslim associations, while the remaining
Plenum share is represented by the 10 non-organized bodies.
Discussion of proposals made by the teams
and the c. group

Results and Proposals

On 13 March 2008, the DIK published its first results and suggestions. In a first summary, the DIK
defines “integration as a mutual process involving both the majority of society and the immigrants. Inte-
Team 1 Gruppo di
Team 2 Team 2 gration mainly entails a process whereby immigrants adapt to the receiving (German) society’s principles
German social order and conversazione
consent on values
Religious issues of the The economy and the concerning law, history and culture”. Muslim associations (KRM) mainly asked for juridical equality be-
German Constitution media as a bridge Security and Islam
tween Islam and the other religions. The acknowledgement of Islam as a religious community with equal
rights is needed to “force” the regions (Bundesländer) to introduce the Islamic religion as a school subject.
Figure 1 The regions are also responsible for granting public body status and the associated fiscal and building
The Plenum is the DIK top-level body; it is made up by 15 State and 15 Muslim representatives. It is in facilitations. A speaker for the Ministry of Interior, on the contrary, has stated that the priority should go
charge of discussing the suggestions put forward by the various Teams and by the Conversation Group, to solving coexistence problems, such as Muslim girls not attending swimming and biology classes.
as well as of making proposals for their work. Since it was set up in September 2006, the Plenum has met
three times. Its first results were published in March 2008. In March 2008, the following results and practical suggestions were put forward:
The Teams and the Conversation Group are made up by the more than 100 experts working for the DIK - a piece of research aimed at collecting data and information about the Muslim population in Germany,
Conference. Their task is to provide suggestions about their specific topics. in order to identify a consensus about values within the communities throughout German society;
- policies aimed at improving the language proficiency of children with a migratory background, at
Team 1 has been assigned the following topics: basic right protection, Muslim participation in politics, stimulating the cooperation among schools and Muslim parents, and at implementing innovative school
laicisation as a guiding principle, political will creation, equal opportunities for men and women, educa- programs;
tional issues and family value transmission. - a legal-juridical base for introducing Islamic religion as a school subject, to be taught in German;
Team 2 has been tasked with identifying a consensus and some feasible solutions to the following issues: - proposals for such a portrayal by the media as needed to fight stereotypes and eliminate prejudices;
the introduction of Islam as a subject at school, the participation of Muslim children in school activities within this framework, the beginning of an intense dialogue among Muslim representatives and the rep-
such as co-educational swimming classes, school trips, etc., as well as mosque construction and the per- resentatives of science, politics and the media.
formance of burials according to the Muslim funeral rites. Although the FRG has adopted the principle - an improvement of the cooperation among Muslims, mosque associations and security agencies

40 41

- the creation of a national clearing, prevention and cooperation body under the Federal Office for Mi- between Israel and the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The Jewish representative is the deputy chairman of
gration and Refugees (“Clearingstelle Präventionskooperation” im Bundesamt für Migration und Flüch- the Central Council of Jews in Germany (Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland, ZJD). Another Muslim
tlinge). representative was selected, but this time it was the Christian representatives who refused the award, this
The next meeting of the DIK Plenum is scheduled for 25 June 2009, when any further proposals put time because of a paper on the symbol of Jesus on the Cross published by the new Muslim representative.
forward by the Teams will be discussed. Besides the Christian representatives, the Hesse Chancellery and the Curia have raised very heated and
intolerant arguments, mainly due the news published by the press. While the first Muslim representative
Interkultureller Rat in Deutschland had refused the prize on political grounds, the dialogue is currently stuck on religious issues.
(German Intercultural Council)
This Council is a cooperation among people with various origins and nationalities, as well as belonging to
different social groups, e.g. representatives of blue-collar associations, religious communities, migrant or-
ganizations, human right groups, municipal- and state-level bodies, science and the press. Interkultureller The Christian - Jewish - Muslim dialogue in Germany
Rat in Deutschland was created on 31 August 1994, and it is currently chaired by Dr. Jürgen Micksch; it Setting the above recent event aside, the need to support and promote the inter-religious dialogue at vari-
aims at implementing an intercultural policy by promoting national- and European-level dialogue, activ- ous levels is felt at both the political and the religious level. Since 2002, the Federal Government has been
ity and connection frameworks. funding the Christian - Islamic dialogue with 425,000 Euro a year. This money is used to hold dialogue
workshops for imams, to stimulate dialogue through the Coordination Council of the Associations for
Christian - Islamic Dialogue (Koordinierungsrat des Christlich-Islamischen Dialogs (KCID) and other
Internationale Wochen gegen Rassismus bodies, but also to support some inter-religious work carried out by political education institutions such
(International Weeks against Racism) as the Federal Centre for Political Education (Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung, BpB), by political
The International Weeks against Racism are held throughout Europe to express solidarity to the victims foundations such as the Friedrich Ebert-Stiftung (FES) and by some Universities.
of racism. They originate from an invitation issued by the UN to its member states to organize solidarity A project named Do you know who I am? (Weißt du, wer ich bin?) was set up in 2004, and is currently
events underscoring the full force of Articles 1 and 2 of the Convention on Human Rights. funded by the Ministry of Interior with 40,000 Euro a year. The project aims at promoting peaceful coex-
In Germany, these activities are mainly organized by the German Intercultural Council (Interkultureller istence in Germany, as well as at supporting bottom-up dialogue and mutual understanding among Jews,
Rat in Deutschland). The first of these official events was held in 2001, and in 2007 about 500 activities Christians and Muslims. Major central Christian (ACK), Jewish (ZDJ) and Muslim (ZMD / DITIB)
of this kind were organized. The German Football Association supports these initiatives by means of sta- organizations take part in the project.
dium-based committees, and so do some German MPs, too, by holding discussions and giving lectures
in schools. Within the framework of the Weißt du, wer ich bin? project, an initiative named Sarah-Hager-Initia-
tive Frankfurt was set up in 2004 in Frankfurt am Main by some Jewish, Muslim and Christian women.
The initiative aims at overcoming the patriarchal aspects and trends which characterize all religions; it
aims at doing so through the inter-religious exchanges among female believers, by identifying some com-
III. The inter-religious dialogue mon strategies to overcome the dichotomy between the feminist and modern women, on the one hand,
and the religious (non-feminist) women, on the other hand. Solidarity and dialogue may help criticizing
the way feminist principles and women rights are exploited to demean both Islam and Hebraism, and
The terms ‘inter-religious dialogue’ and ‘dialogue among religions’ mean respectful, equal-footing ex- may also help protecting women.
changes of ideas and opinions, as well as meetings and co-operations, among representatives of two or
more religions. The inter-religious dialogue is currently quite popular due to the ongoing discussions on Interkultureller Arbeitskreis and Abrahamisches Forum im Interkultureller Rat
globalisation, international migrations and pluralism, as well as on a kind of terrorism which makes use Within the structure of the German Intercultural Council (Interkulturelle Rat Deutschland), the repre-
of a religious framework. sentatives of various central religious organizations such as the Council of Christian Churches in Ger-
Within the German context, a high-profile event helps understanding the considerable difficulties lying many (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Christlicher Kirchen in Deutschland, ACK), the Central Council of Jews
on the path towards implementing the principles of the inter-religious dialogue. in Germany (Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland. ZJD), the Central Council of Muslims in Germany
This topic is currently in the spotlight of German public opinion; this surge of attention was triggered by (Zentralrat der Muslime in Deutschland, ZMD), the Federation of Alevite Communities in Germany
an event which took place in Hesse during an award ceremony for inter-religious cooperation; the event (Förderation der Aleviten-Gemeinden in Deutschland ), the World Conference of Religions for Peace
underscores both the lack of tolerance and the willingness and skills needed to discuss matters. (WCRP) and other bodies participate in an inter-religious team named the Intercultural Working Group
The Islamic representative, a university professor of international standing, was to be awarded a prize to-
gether with one representative each for the Jewish, Catholic and Evangelical denominations. The Islamic
representative refused the award because of the political stance of the Jewish representative on the conflict  Contact person: Pfarrerin Eli Wolf- Evangelisches Frauenbegegnungszentrum Frankfurt, Einrichtung der EKHN
Saalgasse 15, 60311 Frankfurt - Tel. und Fax: 069-920 708 0 / 069-920 708 99 - E-Mail:

42 43

(Interkultureller Arbeitskreis), whose aim is to promote a culture of social solidarity. The practice of inter-religious dialogue
The representatives of the Central Council of Jews in Germany (ZJD), of the Christian Churches (ACK),
In practice, the inter-religious dialogue consists of daily talks, theology conferences, women groups, guid-
of some Muslim organizations (ZMD and DITIB) and of other bodies hold regular discussions on inter-
ed tours to churches, cooperation among teachers, shared social projects, participation in inter-religious
religious topics in the framework of the Abrahamitic Forum (Abrahamisches Forum) set up within the
organization activities.
structure of German Intercultural Council (Interkultureller Rat Deutschland). Other discussion topics
Several organizations promote such dialogue in very practical ways by implementing humanitarian and
include the promotion of education at school and outside it.
social projects which bring together people belonging to different denominations and harbouring differ-
The Christian - Jewish dialogue in Germany
ent views about the world and life. Many projects of this kind exist, even very small ones, to promote
Deutscher Koordinierungsrat der Gesellschaften für christlich-jüdische Zusammenarbeit (German Coor-
conciliation, respect and trust.
dinating Committee of the Associations for Christian - Jewish Cooperation)
Pope John Paul II played a major role in the inter-religious dialogue. Despite fierce opposition from the
Over 80 Associations for Christian - Jewish Cooperation (Gesellschaften für Christlich-Jüdische Zusam-
Catholic side, in 1986 he had an inter-religious meeting set up in Assisi, Italy. The Community of Saint
menarbeit) exist in Germany, with about 20,000 members. These associations belong to the German
Egidio has organized a yearly inter-religious meeting ever since, while also facilitating talks between
Coordinating Committee of the Associations for Christian - Jewish Cooperation (Deutscher Koordi-
religious authorities and non-religious intellectuals and promoting practical inter-religious cooperation
nierungsrat der Gesellschaften für Christlich-Jüdische Zusammenarbeit), which was set up in Germany
initiatives. One such instance is the participation, by Muslims as well, in the inter-religious meeting held
after the Nazi period and the Holocaust. The Committee aims at reconciling Jewish and non-Jewish
in Warsaw, Poland, in 1989, and in the Auschwitz concentration camp. By hosting the inter-religious
Germans, at fostering a peaceful coexistence of peoples and religions and at fighting anti-Semitism and
meeting of 1986 in Bucharest, Rumania paved the way for the visit of John Paul II there, the first by a
right-wing extremism. Both the individual member associations and the central council have one Jew-
Pope to a Christian Orthodox-majority country.
ish chairman, one Christian Evangelical chairman and one Christian Catholic chairman. The Deutsche
A major participant in the inter-religious dialogue is Turkish intellectual Fethullah Gülen, who has been
Koordinierungsrat der Gesellschaften für christlich-jüdische Zusammenarbeit Coordination Committee
promoting for years such dialogue on the Turkish side.
is the largest among the 32 members of the International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ).

The Christian - Muslim dialogue in Germany

Islamisch-Christliche Arbeitsgruppe
(ICA, Christian - Islamic Working Group)
Several Islamic, Roman Catholic, Evangelical and Greek Orthodox organizations cooperate within the
framework of this Group, which was set up in 1976 to promote the inter-religious dialogue by means of
workshops, inter-religious projects and exchanges of opinions.

Koordinierungsrat des christlich-islamischen Dialogs

(KCID, Coordination Council of the Associations for Christian - Islamic Dialogue)
The KCID is the central council of the organizations for the Christian - Islamic dialogue; the largest and
oldest member is the Christian - Islamic Society (Christlich-Islamische Gesellschaft).

Christlich-Islamische Gesellschaft e.V.

(CIG.e.V., Christian - Islamic Society)
The CIG is the largest and oldest association for the Christian - Islamic dialogue in Germany; it was set
up in 1982, and is headquartered in Cologne. The association represents both the Muslims living in Ger-
many and the Christians living in Islamic countries, and it accepts Christian, Muslim and Jewish mem-
bers. The Society aims at supporting the right of the individual to preserve his/her own identity, while at
the same time stimulating the willingness to better understand and accept other people religions, cultures
and attitudes. The goal is thus to underscore the common aspects and to explain the differences, so that
they become less of a separation factor.

44 45

Organization, Social Practices and Problems of Jewish and

Muslim Communities in Italy

Editor: SRF

Numerical levels............................................................................................................................48
Community organizations . .......................................................................................................... 55
The relations with the State and the prevailing social problems...................................................... 65
The relations with the other religious communities........................................................................ 71
Discrimination events and public opinion attitudes....................................................................... 73


Introduction Religious appurtenance of immigrants to Italy (2006 - 2007)

This document provides an analysis of the Jewish and Muslim community major organizations and of the







main problems and issues they face within the Italian society. This study is based on the analysis of the

available documents and texts, as well as on some interviews with privileged witnesses.

For better clarity and convenience, we thought it would be useful to analyse the main traits following 31.12.2007
the similarities between the two communities; it should be borne in mind, though, that the two com-
Abs. value 2.099.564 1.129.630 775.626 138.825 52.181 1.253.704 7.165 90.931 55.861 44.674 435.013
munities are very different in terms of history, traditions and ways of integration into the Italian society;
% 52,7% 28,3% 19,5% 3,5% 1,3% 31,4% 0,2% 2,3% 1,4% 1,1% 10,9%
consequently, we do not aim at providing an analytical comparison.
Areas Europe Europe Europe Europe Africa Africa Europa Asia Asia Africa Europa

Due to the inherent heterogeneousness of the two communities, further care should be taken in assessing Prevalence. 74,7% 98,6% 47,9% 59,3% 42,6% 58,4% 48,6% 93,9% 99,9% 99,9% 47,5%

the provided information. During the analysis, we were led to adopt plural terms, namely “Jewish com- 31.12.2006
munities” and “Muslim communities”. Many groups do identify themselves with Hebraism and Islam, Abs. value 1.791.758 918.375 685.127 129.867 58.386 1.202.396 8.942 99.194 67.978 41.366 478.419
but they display different and specific features, which we have tried to clarify, albeit limitedly, during our
% 48,6% 24,9% 18,6% 3,5% 1,6% 32,6% 0,2% 2,7% 1,8% 1,1% 13%
research on this subject.
Source: Caritas file 2008, page 197

I. Numerical levels
a. Jewish communities
Italian citizens belonging to religious minorities (2006)
Nearly 30,000 Italian Jews, out of a population 57 million, are currently registered members of the 21
Religious minority Numerical Level Religious minority Numerical Level communities existing in the country. Statistical data show that a so called “enlarged Jewish population”
exists; it is made up by people who define themselves as Jews because of their origin or appurtenance, as
“Fringe” and dissident Catholics 20.000 Osho groups and their derivatives 4.000
well as by people of Jewish origin but who were not Jews at the time of the survey and by the non-Jew-
Orthodox 20.000 Sikh, Radha Soami and their derivatives 1.500 ish members (children, spouses, etc.) of the above mentioned families (Della Pergola, 1975); the enlarged
Jewish population is estimated to number about 45,000.
Protestants 363.000 Other Oriental groups 800
The registration of Jewish citizens as members of the communities of their cities is currently voluntary, i.e.
Jews 29.000 New Japanese religions 2.500 it no longer is compulsory (as it was in the past under an Act of 1930). Despite this, many Jews choose
to be official members of some Jewish community, and the share of people who do not register looks
Jehovah’s Witnesses (and similar) 400.000 Esoteric and ”Ancient Wisdom” area 13.500
Other Christian groups 24.000 Human Potential groups 100.000 The community of Rome is the most relevant from a statistical standpoint, as it has about 15,000 regis-
tered members, i.e. about half the Jewish population of Italy. This community has a long-standing tradi-
Muslims 10.000 New Age and Next Age organized groups 20.000
tion, dating back to before the Christian age, and it is the longest-lived in the Western hemisphere. Milan
Baha’i and other Islamic groups 3.000 Others 5.000
hosts another large community, with about 7,000 registered members. These two communities account
for nearly 70% of the Jewish population of Italy. As far as their membership is concerned, the other com-
Hindus and Neo-Hindus 15.000 munities are small- to medium-sized. The communities of Turin, Florence, Leghorn, Trieste, Venice and
Buddhists 93.000 Total 1.124.300
Genoa have between 500 and a few thousand registered members each. Though numerically small, other
Italian communities have a considerable relevance from the historical and cultural standpoint: among
Source: Caritas file 2007, page 195 (estimates by CESNUR) these, Ancona, Casale Monferrato, Ferrara and Mantua stand out. As pointed out in the official website of
the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI, Unione delle Comunità Ebraiche Italiane) “despite
the many problems and the demographic crisis, Italian Hebraism is still alive and lively, and it is a stimu-
 The Act of 1930 made it compulsory for Jewish people to register as members of some community. This principle has now been declared
unconstitutional, and registration is thereby voluntary, as stated also in the Community Code that was approved in 1987.

48 49

lating, thought-provoking and dialogue-fostering factor within its surrounding society” (http://moked. Focus on: Turin and Padua
The Jewish community of Turin has about 1,100 registered members; as such, it is Piedmont’s largest, and Italy’s third largest. Ac-
Most Italian Jews are also Italian nationals, although some foreign-national communities did settle in cording to its website, over the years it has absorbed the communities of Alexandria, Asti. Acqui, Carmagnola, Cherasco, Chieri,
Rome and Milan around 1967. In Rome, most foreign-national Jews are immigrants from Tripoli, and Cuneo, Ivrea, Mondovì and Saluzzo.
are very well integrated in the community life. Milan hosts some Jewish groups coming from Central At the local level, the community is very well integrated into the life and the social fabric of the city. Its facilities, particularly its
schools (the “Colonna e Finzi” primary school and the “Emanuele Artom” intermediate school), are attended by both Jewish and
Europe and the Middle East (particularly from Iran and Lebanon), who haven’t always merged easily into non-Jewish pupils; over the years, they have become a major focal point of the San Salvario district, where they are located. The
the existing Jewish community. Many of them, for instance, have a synagogue and a school of their own community is tied to the local society also through the active engagement of many of its members in municipal bodies and as-
(as is the case with the Lebanese Jewish community), although they are anyway registered members of sociations. The community of Turin has a long-standing tradition, and its members are mostly of local ancestry (this is not the case
with the communities of other cities, such as Milan). Since the Risorgimento, many Jews have played relevant roles in the history
the local community. of Turin, as they still do today. According to community chairman Tullio Levi “Many members of the community are markedly Jews
The various territorial communities of Italy display a very well rooted specificity, which also arose through and markedly Turinese”.
their different ways of intertwining with the local history. As underscored by some of our interviewees (see Every four years, the community appoints a Council, a Board and a Chairman (currently Mr. Tullio Levi). The community also has
rabbi, who embodies the religious power. In 2009, a dispute arose between the rabbi and the Council majority; the Council has
the interviews with Guido Fubini and Carlo Vercelli), one can identify peculiar traditions and charac- requested the rabbi appointment to be revoked, motivating such a request with the strictly orthodox approach of the religious
teristics. Throughout its history, for instance, the Jewish community of Turin was always deeply engaged representative. The dispute is currently still open, and the community of Turin is waiting for the response of a committee specifically
in local politics, mainly through its active social and cultural elite, for which it is well known. The com- appointed to the purpose (the committee includes three rabbis and three lay representatives).
Several different political groups and stances coexist within the community of Turin. The Jewish Study group (Ha Keillah) was cre-
munity took active part in the city-level movements of the Risorgimento first, and then of the anti-fascist ated many years ago (in 1981) to counterbalance the conservative attitude then prevailing within the community establishment.
groups, and it still displays the strong, liberal tradition by which it is characterized. The community of This group has a progressive, leftist tradition; for many years, it was the majority group within the Council, but it is now experiencing
Rome, on the contrary, has a social structure where the urban proletariat and under-proletariat prevail, a crisis. The Council majority is currently represented by the Active Community group, which was set up only recently (about 5 years
ago) and has no strong political stance. A third group named For Israel is poorly structured at the moment, and is represented by
and it is much more sensitive to the traditional values. On the political level, its stance is rather conserva- one councillor.
tive and rightist. Besides the political groups, several associations play relevant roles at the social and cultural level. Among these, it is worth recalling
These differences are also partly due to their different integration and recognition processes; thanks to the Jewish School Alumni Association (a small group including non-Jews as well), and other groups interested in religious issues
associated to the worship rituals.
King Charles Albert’s Code (Statuto albertino), which was issued in 1848, this process occurred earlier
on in Piedmont. The same process took place a few generations later for the communities of central Italy, The Jewish community of Padua has currently about 200 registered members, as well as some unregistered ones; the latter are
with unavoidable consequences on community history. mainly non-residents from various countries or areas of Italy, who study or work in the area for a while. The figure is peculiar in that
it has neither increased, nor decreased over the past 60 years. There is a generation gap, though, as there are no people aged 25 to
40; this is mainly due to emigration to other countries and to Israel. Membership levels are stabilized by an inflow of people from
The mentioned figures obviously drop if one only looks at the people who practice the Jewish religion; outside the community. Many ongoing initiatives within the community are explicitly aimed at keeping it alive despite such inflow,
weekly attendance is rather limited, and it increases only on religious holidays. No national data are and the rabbi says he is happy with the results achieved so far. The community of Padua is the reference centre for people living
in town, in Rovigo and down to the border with the Emilia region. The three communities of the Veneto region (namely those of
available for these rates; as an order of magnitude, the privileged witnesses who were interviewed in Tu- Venice, Padua and Verona) have actually broken up the territory in three jurisdictions, thereby regrouping also those Jews living in
rin stated that about a hundred people regularly attend synagogue services out of a thousand registered areas close to the three corresponding provinces, mainly for practical reasons related to the number of registered members.
members (roughly 10%). The community can be considered as an integral part of the city. There is no point talking about integration, as a Jewish presence
has always been there, and the Jewish ghetto has been a relevant part of the city centre since the 12th century. The first recorded
This points to the existence of a silent majority which takes little part in the social life of the community, Jewish presence in Padua was that of a Mr. Jacopo Bonacosa, who was registered in the municipal records in the 12th century as
while maintaining ties and an attention level which shows up, according to the interviewed witnesses, on coming from a community located in central Italy; like many other Jews at that time, Mr. Bonacosa had fled the Pope’s dominions
the occasion of Council elections, when participation reaches about 50% of the overall registered mem- and taken shelter in Padua, then a very liberal city. In general, the Jews who settled in Padua were of Italian ancestry, of Spanish
ancestry, i.e. Sephardic Jews fleeing Spain, as well as Ashkenazi Jews moving to Padua and Venice from Northern Europe.
bership. Some community members, therefore, have roots going back 800, 600 or 500 years. As chief rabbi Adolfo Locci states with a smile:
”One needs to pay attention to who plays host to whom”.
There is currently no official monitoring of Jewish youth groups. In order to make up for this lack of in- The community is a democratic body; every 5 years, its members vote to appoint their leaders and their financial managers. The
elected Council then appoints the Chairman, who is responsible for the community under the Law. The current Chairman, Mr.
formation, the UCEI Youth Council has recently suggested to allocate some funding to set up a national Davide Romanin Jacurd, is in his second term, and has always been a Council member. Chief rabbi Adolfo Locci is from Rome; he
youth database allowing young Italian Jews to be monitored, but also reached and brought in contact was appointed in 1990.
with each other. According to an estimate by UCEI deputy chairwoman and youth councillor Claudia The community of Padua lacks clearly defined political groups and stances. The community decided there was no need for a politi-
cal connotation, and considers politics a fully private issue, although it has clearly mandated that in doing their duty the rabbi, the
De Benedetti, there are about 12,000 young Italian Jews. Chairman and the councillors must show no political tendency. Being a city-level body, the community endeavours to cooperate
with all other institutions, irrespective of their political orientations.
This is a basic feature the community has chosen for itself.
As customary, within the community of Padua several associations carry out various cultural and social activities. This is the case,
for instance, with the Association of Italian Jewish Women (ADEI, Associazione Donne Ebree Italiane), the Jewish Youth Centre (CGE,
Centro Giovanile Ebraico), and the local chapter of the Keren Kayemet Le Israel, a historical association dedicated to planting trees
in Israel in memory of deceased people and to reforesting the country. Trees are an interesting symbol of Jewish culture, since men
 According to one of our interviewees (Franco Segre), this is due to the fact that sometimes these foreign-national communities have a are like trees in the fields, and can bring fruit only if properly tended.
stricter approach, which does not seem to be guaranteed to a sufficient extent by the (traditionally more open and less “orthodox”) Italian
Jewish schools.

50 51

b. Muslim communities cle, on the contrary, religion may become a personal experience mainly, which in some instances entails
moving away from one’s original religion, or may turn into a kind of socio-cultural, rather than strictly
religious appurtenance. Many surveys point out that it is mainly the young who display a more fluid,
Estimating the number of Muslims living in Italy is quite hard. Accurate estimates are hindered by sev-
manifold and diversified religiousness. Islam is sometimes approached at a spiritual, individual level; in
eral factors: first of all, contrary to what happens with the Jewish minority, there are nearly no voluntary
other instances it is adopted as a symbol of identity and social rebellion, while in further cases religion is
registrations at the local communities (which grow around the places of worship). Furthermore, the com-
perceived as a driver of civic engagement and common good development (Cesari and Pacini, 2005, page
munities are very highly fragmented and quite often loosely connected to each other, which hampers data
141). It is anyway important to stress that religious appurtenance is more and more a choice rather than a
collection. As we shall see, the lack of a central representative organization for the Muslim communities
parental heritage, and this leads to the development of a different self-awareness and self-consciousness.
makes an effective numerical assessment of religious appurtenance even harder to achieve.
According to official estimates, about 1,250,000 Muslims live in Italy. According to Caritas estimates,
Quite evidently, however, religious identity is often “much more shifting than one may think” (Pace,
about 150,000 further Muslims live in the country as clandestine immigrants (Caritas file 2008). As
2004). Consequently, although a non-negligible share of people may generally define themselves as Mus-
far as the new converts are concerned, an often-quoted estimate puts their number at 10,000, but some
lims, the percentage of practicing Muslims is lower. This obviously occurs with other religious denomina-
researchers believe this figure is too high (Allievi, 1999). When talking about converts, one should take
tions as well; on the other hand, if one looks e.g. at the Jewish communities, their registered members
into account that many men undergo formal conversions only, in order to be allowed to marry Muslim
seem to somehow express a desire to belong which is hard to detect among Muslims. Few national-level
women from Muslim-majority countries (whose embassies would otherwise often not provide them the
surveys are available on the percentage of practicing Muslims: one of these was carried out in 2004 in the
needed papers), but do not practice their new religion after marrying.
area of Turin (Introvigne and Negri, 2005), and according to its results the share of practicing Muslims
is about 30% in Piedmont capital city.
Today, Muslims thus account for about 2% of the population; this figure is definitely bound to rise, but
for the time being it is far lower than in other European countries. Despite this, Islam currently looks set
No accurate data are available on the presence of young Muslims in Italy. According to some estimates,
to become the second largest religious denomination in Italy.
they may be around 300,000, out of which 140,000 - 160,000 were born or educated in the country (Ce-
Among the immigrants currently living in Italy, about 31% are Muslims, followed by Catholics and
sari and Pacini, 2005). A further source of information is provided by the Caritas religious appurtenance
Orthodox. Both Caritas and Ministry data, however, show that this share is decreasing, since new im-
estimates of the immigrant children enrolled at all Italian schools; according to these estimates, out of a
migrants now mainly come from non-Muslim countries like Rumania, Moldova and Ukraine.
total of 498,735 pupils, about 236,000 are Christians, about 185,000 Muslims and around 1,000 Jews,
corresponding to 47.3% Christians and 37.1% Muslims; the latter figure is probably bound to rise due to
Religious appurtenance estimates are based on statistical data on nationality, and therefore gauge the
family re-unions (Caritas file 2008, page 201).
presence of foreign nationals from Muslim-majority countries. Although these data may allow overall es-
timates of this trend, they should be taken with particular care, as no reliable data exist on clandestine im-
migration, and nationality is no sure indicator of religious appurtenance: people from a Muslim-majority
country need not belong to its main religious denomination, especially in their host country (Introvigne,
in Negri and Introvigne, 2005, pages 26 - 27). Despite this, many surveys underscore a trend towards
keeping strong ties with the country of origin, particularly in the first phase of the migratory cycle; such
ties also show up in terms of social and religious appurtenance, and migrants often tend to gather around
neo-ethnic communities, which also reproduce religious aspects. Alternatively, these could be mainly
religious communities with an accessory national identity. In the subsequent phases of the migratory cy-

 Concerning this subject, it is worth recalling that sub-section 3 of Section 116 of the Civil Law (“Foreigners marrying in Italy”) pre-
scribes that foreigners who are domiciled or resident in Italy must publish their banns according to the provisions of the Law itself. The
banns aim at notifying everybody that two people intend to marry, thereby allowing possible objections to be raised against the marriage.
In order to publish the banns, the bride and groom need to exhibit their birth certificates and, in the case of foreign nationals, their per-
mission to get married. The latter is just a certificate issued by the authorities of the country of origin showing that the applicant is allowed
to marry, as there are no obstacles. Many foreign nationals can not get a marriage permission from the authorities of their countries. This
often happens because for religious or political reasons. In these cases, the State official is required to refuse to publish the banns because
the prescribed documents are missing. The bride and groom then turn to the Courts to have their right to marry recognized and to certify
that there are no valid grounds to prevent them from marrying. The Judiciary stance on this subject is summarized by Constitutional
Court Ruling No. 14 of 30 January 2003. Act 218/95 governs Private International Law rules (and thereby also the transposing of foreign
Acts into the Italian system); in its Section 16, it requires that no measures by a foreign Government be recognized or implemented into
the Italian system if they are contrary to the Italian juridical system basic principles, i.e. the so-called international public order princi-

52 53

Focus on: Turin and Padua

2. Community organizations
About 25,000 inhabitants of Turin (citizen and non-citizen, first or second generation, Italians and non-Italian immigrants) state some
appurtenance to Islam.
The same local body structure is found in Turin as at the national level. Some organizations are active both within the places of worship
and outside the same in order to defend and promote the interests of the local Muslim communities. Among them, the main ones
are the Union of the Islamic Communities and Organizations in Italy (UCOII, Unione delle Comunità e Organizzazioni Islamiche in Italia, a. Jewish communities
which has local premises in Turin, but has many active members in the area and benefits from the affiliation of most places of worship
of Turin); the Sufi groups and religious brotherhoods (among these, of particular relevance in Turin is the Murîdiyya Sufi brotherhood The internal activities of the communities are governed by the Charter of the Union of the Jewish Com-
regrouping most Senegalese immigrants and the Jerrahi–Halveti Sufi group regrouping many Italian converts) and the Turin branch munities, which was approved in 1987 by a special convention of the Union itself and is the current
of the Islamic Religious Community of Italy (Co.Re.Is, Comunità Religiosa Islamica italiana; Belluati, 2007). In the past few years, a new
group has emerged, namely the Union of Italian Muslims (UMI, Unione Musulmani in Italia), whose chairman, Mr. Abdulaziz Khounati, is
regulatory tool of the local communities and of the Union itself.
the imām of the Mosque of Peace (“Moschea della Pace”) located in corso Giulio Cesare (see page 10). As far as the places of worship are The Italian Jewish communities have a three-tier organizational structure. Depending on the issue at
concerned, there are currently no proper mosques in Turin, while “prayer centres” are quite common, and are often located at private hand, this pyramid-like structure reports to a different level in the organization.
apartments, garages or warehouses. Some of these prayer centres are reference points for specific national groups (as in the case of
the Mecca Centre for the Egyptian community), while other national groups, such as the Senegalese, currently have no site, however
inadequate, they can consider a stable place of worship: therefore, they periodically rent some halls where they can gather. Of parti- 1) At the local level, each community has a Chairman, a Council and a Committee of its own; the
cular relevance is the Mosque of Peace located in corso Giulio Cesare, and the more recent premises of the Islamic Association of the Council is elected by the registered adults (i.e. aged over 18) who have been members for a year or more,
Alps (Associazione Islamica delle Alpi) located in via Chivasso, which is a relevant reference point not only for religious issues. At least 9
worship centres exist in Turin; they are located in the two districts with the highest share of immigrants (Porta Palazzo and San Salva-
while the number of Committee members depends on the number of registered members. The Commit-
rio)1. Although these premises are inadequate, many of them gather a wide attendance, especially for the Friday prayer. This situation tee deals with all political-administrative issues. Each community also has a Rabbi, who is its religious
is driving the demand for a larger space, with a higher profile for the Islamic community, along the same lines of other Italian cities. The expert as well as its spiritual leader, and who takes care of all religious matters. The Rabbi is hired by the
Mosque of Peace has recently purchased from a private citizen a building where it plans to build a large mosque, while at the same
starting a relationship with the local government in order to identify the suitable procedures to make this new centre a transparent
community either by call or by contest. This thereby establishes a sharp separation between the religious
place of worship which can be recognized to all practical purposes. Such procedures are currently coming to an end, and the initiative and the administrative areas. Some communities, e.g. in Rome, also have one further body, namely the
should reach its goal within short. The same initiative has aroused bitter controversy by other associations and by the representatives Consulting Council.
of the local cultural environment, who are suspicious of the role the Moroccan government has played, in close cooperation with Mr.
Kounati’s organization, towards the positive outcome of the matter.
The communities are funded by their members’ contributions, which depend on their incomes.
A few years ago, the Municipality has started relationships with the Muslim communities of the area, and is promoting various initiati- Since 1930, each community is a juridical subject, since it is a place of worship. The communities are
ves aimed at a dialogue and at respecting traditions, e.g. a public slaughterhouse (open since the mid 1990s) allowing ritual slaughte- governed by a Charter that was approved in 1987 and regulates their internal activities.
ring and the authorization to use special schedules for pupils of different denominations, which has been granted for over 10 years

A community of about 8.000 people of Islamic denomination has now settled in Padua. Muslim presence in Padua dates back to the 2) At the national level, the various communities are represented by the Union of the Italian Jewish
early 1970s, when a group of Muslim students settled there from the University of Perugia and created the first association of its kind Communities (UCEI, Unione delle Comunità Ebraiche Italiane), which was first envisaged by the Act of
in town. In 1986 the association moved to the very centre of the town, at via San Biagio; by that time, it had already grown from a small
group to a significant membership level. In time, although quietly and with no political arguments, the need for a mosque arose, and
1930 and is headquartered in Rome. Among its other responsibilities, the UCEI is in charge of coordinat-
a building was bought in Pontevigodarzere. In the past few years, however, the community has experienced a significant numerical ing the activities of the various communities and of supporting the smaller ones.
growth, and has felt the need for a new mosque. Consequently, a space was set up in via Anelli, which has become the subject of
a heated political discussion. The space was to become the first mosque, and possibly a future major Islamic centre with a minaret
overlooking the town, as well as a sign of a greater awareness by the town itself. This has not been the case, however, due to strong
UCEI members are elected every 4 years by the national convention. The UCEI has the same structure
opposition raised by people objecting to the initiative, who in the meantime had managed to raise the level both of the confrontation as the local communities, with a Chairman, a Council and a Committee. The Council is made up by 15
and of the building costs. The community thus decided to buy a building from a private citizen, thereby spending about half the sum members, who are supplemented by 3 members appointed by the rabbinical consulting council to rep-
asked by the Municipality. In this way, though, the town has partially lost the challenge of integration due to the lengthy battles and
the many raucous discussions.
resent the Rabbis of the various communities. The Committee is currently made up by 5 members, who
The Islamic associations are distributed unevenly in Veneto, but there is a direct relationship between the number of Muslims and the are supplemented by 4 permanently invited members. All UCEI activities are aimed at implementing the
number of centres. Padua and its surroundings host 11 Islamic centres, 5 places where people can pray from time to time and 4 asso- motions passed, i.e. the guidelines approved, by the convention, which are binding to the Council.
ciations which have no prayer halls, but usually meet at some private apartments, for a total of 20 prayer spaces. Most of these Muslim
associations have been created and are managed by Maghrebis, followed by Bangladeshis and Macedonians. The Senegalese, on the
The structure is staffed by elected representatives: the delegates to the convention are appointed by three
contrary, display little inclination to set up this kind of religiously-oriented associations, and their organizations are of solidarity-social districts (Rome-Naples, Milan-Mantua and Small communities). Their numbers vary depending on the
nature instead. number of their registered members. About 70 delegates gather for the convention; the Council is directly
As in other towns of Veneto, in Padua, too, several Islamic cultural associations are both prayer centres and places of cultural promotion.
Each centre has its own steering committee, a council and some members. The associations are funded by the offers of the attending
elected by the convention and it then appoints the Committee and the Chairman.
people. These centres report to the Islamic Council, which regroups them and has a chairman. There is no regional-level body, while at
the national level the Islamic Council and the various associations report to the UCOII. Each centre has a youth group.
The Rahma Association is highly structured in Padua, where it has been a very major player in the discussions about the plan to build
a large mosque in town. In 2008, in a very highly symbolic event, the representatives of the Rahma Association and the Municipality
signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the construction of the mosque in via Longhin; the Memorandum provided for the  As noted by the Centre for the Study of New Religions (CESNUR, Centro Studi sulle Nuove Religioni), besides the Community and
complete traceability of the associated funding and for the imam to preach in Italian. Although the agreement was duly signed, the the UCEI, the following bodies also have a legal status: the Jewish kindergartens, the Jewish hospitals, the Poor and Disabled Jewish
project did not go any further. Elders Home, the G. and V. Pitigliani Italian Jewish Orphanage, the Jewish Delegation for Social Service and Assistance, the Settimio
In Padua, the dispute over the controversial mosque is still going on, but so are also, at the same time, the initiatives by the associations Saadun Jewish Hospice and Hospital and the Jewish Society of Mercy. Further details are available on the CESNUR website at http://
and by the Municipality to identify effective ways of fostering a deeper integration.

54 55

A complete review of the amendments to the Charter is currently under way; its results will be presented sion among the various national Jewish communities and to monitor their shared problems, while at the
at the next convention, or by convening a special convention. same time operating for a better information and a higher awareness.
The UCEI is arranged in departments. There are currently three of them, namely:
Within the Jewish communities, some groups have different political attitudes, which basically mirror the
a. The Education and Culture Department (DEC, Dipartimento Educazione e Cultura) national one. The privileged interviewees have described the current attitudes.
b. The External Relations and Information Department (DIRE: Dipartimento Informazioni Relazi- A markedly right-wing and orthodox-leaning political stance exists: in the past 4 years, this group has
oni Esterne), which takes care of the Sources of Life (Sorgenti di vita) programme broadcasted on proposed its own lists in the various communities, under the “Per Israele” (For Israel) banner.
Sundays by the second Italian State TV network (RAI 2), of the Jewish Culture Day (Giornata A second stance, on the contrary, makes reference to the political middle ground; in Milan, for instance,
della cultura ebraica) and of the Day of Memory of the Holocaust (Giornata della memoria) it is represented by the Kadima list, which relates to the Israeli list.
c. The Administrative Department. The progressive local lists relating to the centre-left have taken up different names in the various commu-
nities; in Turin, for instance, this stance is represented by the Ha Keillah Jewish study group.
Since 2006, a National Youth Office has been set up within the DEC. The decision was taken during the At the local level, across-the-board lists also exist, with no marked political stance: among them, we note
2006 Council meeting, in order to meet the need of the young. The Youth Office manages the relations the “Comunità attiva Keillah” (Keillah Active Community) list, which was set up about ten years ago in
with school-age and non school-age young people, and it mainly coordinates their activities wherever Turin (and is now the majority list within the Council), the “Chai” list in Milan and the “Per i giovani”
there are no local youth communities. The councillor’s office regularly organizes playing and educational (For the Young) list relating to activities of the Martin Buber association.
activities for young people under 18. In early 2009, a training project for young community leaders was The various territorial-level communities thus tend to display different attitudes; as pointed out by the
completed. interviewees, though, civic lists are often set up, in order to provide expression and representation oppor-
The Union also deals with a number of topics and issues which are mentioned in the Memorandum of tunities to those who wish to be active within their communities, and have the time to do that, regardless
Understanding with the State and are concerned with many community life economical and social aspects of party divides.
(see the next paragraph). As explained by the interviewees, all UCEI activities are funded by the annual Several associations, mostly free from political hues, also regroup people who are interested in specific
revenue of the 8‰ tax allowance. Starting this year, for instance, such revenue has allowed publishing a topics, e.g. the Association of Italian Jewish Women (ADEI, Associazione Donne Ebree Italiane), the
national newspaper (“Pagine ebraiche” - Jewish Pages), which reports on the activities taking place within Italy - Israel Association (Associazione Italia - Israele, which is markedly Zionist and strongly pro-Israel),
and among the communities. the Zionist Group (Gruppo Sionistico, which is stronger in some cities than elsewhere) and the Jewish
Besides the UCEI activities, the 8‰ allowance has funded territory-level community activities: the com- - Christian Friendship Group (Gruppo di Amicizia Ebraico - Cristiana). Furthermore, many associations,
mittees determine the priorities on a yearly basis, which are then implemented based on the annual in- such as the Jewish Assistance Delegation (Deputazione di assistenza ebraica) and the Pitigliani organiza-
come forecast. tion, are active at the social level, and carry out activities for youth and families in need (these are funded
by bequests established at specific times in history). The artistic and cultural area is managed by important
3) Finally, a further organizational level exists at the European level, namely the European Jewish Jewish museums (among which those located in Rome, Venice, Florence and Casale Monferrato stand
Congress (i.e. the umbrella organization regrouping all the national Unions of Jewish Communities, out). National Act No. 175 grants them the opportunity to use cultural heritage conservation funds: as
which, in turn, is part of the World Jewish Congress). explained by UCEI deputy chairwoman Claudia De Benedetti, as a matter of policy the Council assigns
The UCEI is active at the European level through its representatives at 1) the EJC - European Jewish most of these funds to the synagogues as meeting places, rather than to the Jewish cemeteries.
Congress, 2) the ECJC - European Council of Jewish Communities, 3) the CER - Conference of Euro- The Shoah is a further area where many volunteers carry out educational and awareness-driving activities
pean Rabbis. Within these bodies, the UCEI is mainly active to organize the European Day of Jewish at school. This field is managed by the Jewish Contemporary Documentation Centre (CDEC, Centro di
Culture, to circulate the European Jewish Itineraries and to foster exchange, awareness and acquaintance Documentazione Ebraica Contemporanea), which collects many documents and pieces of evidence relat-
programs. The Congress representatives also monitor several projects within the committee activities, and ing to current and past events (e.g. about discriminations). The Bibliographic Centre of Rome collects
are in close contact with the European parliament. documents coming from various communities, with a particular focus on those which are no longer alive
As pointed out on its official Website, at the global level the Congress deals with several issues ranging and active within the territory. These bodies allow the Jewish communities to carry out thorough activi-
from current events to international politics, with a particular focus on anti-Semitism and Holocaust ties at the territorial level as well as to tackle national and international political issues.
heritage issues (which are related to commemoration and awareness, but also to the sensitive topic of
economic compensation of the suffered damage). Other relevant topics have to do with the relations with Precisely as different political attitudes exist within the Jewish communities, several religious traditions
the State of Israel, with the peace process and with the inter-religious dialogue with the other denomina- co-exist within them (as pointed out by Cesnur). In particular, an indigenous tradition exists in Italy, and
tions. it differs from both the Sephardic and the Ashkenazi traditions, which came to Italy following various
Of particular relevance to the activities of these bodies is the opportunity to facilitate a permanent discus- migration waves. From the cultural viewpoint, the ‘Italian ritual’ is considered to be the closest to the  As pointed out by the interviewees, this association has a mainly non-Jewish membership.

56 57

ritual used in Israel before the Diaspora, and is characterized by some cross-contamination between the members of some Jewish community (which is not the case in other European countries), no formal reg-
Italian culture and the Jewish religion. This ritual is still practiced by some Italian communities (though istration is required to join the UGEI. Since the UGEI is the only recognized youth organization at the
not all of them), e.g. in Rome, Milan, Turin and Ferrara. national level, and as it is the youth branch of the UCEI, any registered member of any Jewish commu-
Italian Jews define themselves as orthodox, but on further inquiry that definition is much weaker com- nity can participate in its activities. According to (UCEI Youth Councillor) Claudia De Benedetti, about
pared to what happens in other countries, at least based on individual member opinions. In the United 3,000 young people take part in UGEI activities, with a slight prevalence of females.
States, for instance, the breakdown into orthodox, conservative and reformed Hebraism looks much The UGEI top governing body is its Congress, which meets once a year. The Congress assesses the work
more rooted and structured, and from this viewpoint orthodox communities are much stricter than performed in the previous year and provides directions for the future of the organization. The Congress,
in Italy. Religious orthodoxy, however, seems to be gaining some ground back in Italy at the moment; in particular, votes on the motions proposed to it by the various working groups; once approved, these
although this sort of “return to tradition” is a trend shared by other religious groups, it does not look motions become binding on the Council, which must then act accordingly. Every year, the Congress ap-
painless or free from consequences on the internal dynamics of the various communities. As pointed out points its Executive Council, which is made up by 9 councillors (among which a Chairperson and two
by one interviewee, the comeback of tradition has made conversion to Hebraism much more difficult for Deputy Chairpersons) and operates for a year to implement its mandate.
children born of mixed couples, with a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother10. In the past, rabbis were Since it is the reference body for all Jewish youth organizations, the UGEI also participates as an observer
more tolerant about conversions (to the point where if both parents agreed, an “ex officio conversion” with right to speech in the UGEI Council meetings and in the UGEI Congress, which is held every
could be performed a few days after a child was born); today, on the contrary, we see a worldwide restric- fourth year. The UGEI has local branches in all major Italian cities hosting a Jewish community.
tive trend whereby, in some cases, the child’s mother is required to convert, too. The reformed groups have The UGEI main activities are socialization and meeting initiatives such as its two camps (one in the sum-
a much softer stance, and are currently taking aim at these new trends, as well as at other, stricter rules mer and one in the winter), its spring gathering, its meetings with its members, its participation in public
on ritual practice differences between males and females. Despite this, for the time being these groups are activities (such as conferences and events organized for the European Day of Jewish Culture). The UGEI
still marginal11. also has an official magazine named Ha Tikwà, which is “open to the free exchange of ideas in a spirit of
respect for all opinions” (Sect. 33 of its Charter).
Young Jews organizations have two branches, one for people “under 18” (school age) and one for people The organization mainly deals with cultural topics (on the occasion of Jewish religious holidays and
“over 18” (beyond school age). celebrations) aimed at bringing the young closer to Jewish traditions. An interest has recently developed
Two major organizations exist for young people under 18, namely: in national and international political (and non-partisan) issues. Such an interest has been stimulated by
a) Benè Akiva, a Zionist youth movement set up in 1929 by religious labour party representative Apoel some Council members, most notably its Chairman. In 2009, for instance, many initiatives have been set
Ha-Mizrachi, whose main current goals are, according to its website, those of “educating a generation of up on the political situation in Iran, on Darfur and on the Arab - Israeli conflict.
faithful devotees of the Torah, of its people and of its land, who live of their own jobs in the spirit of the The UGEI is part of a network including several non-denominational youth groups (in particular through
Torah, to build a society based on the Torah and on work”12; the National Youth Forum) as well as groups of other religious denominations. For a few years now, it has
b) Hashomer Hatzair, a boy-scout movement affiliated to a wider European organization, whose ideals been active in the inter-religious dialogue through school-level meetings and public discussions, often in
are “Hebraism, Zionism and Socialism”. The movement currently has 4 centres in Italy (namely in Rome, connection with young Muslims.
Milan, Florence and Turin), and it organizes weekly activities as well as winter and summer camps13. Last but not least, the UGEI also has contacts at the European level, in particular with the European Un-
Young people over 18, on the contrary, are members of the Union of Young Jews of Italy (UGEI, Unione ion of Jewish Students (EUJS), an umbrella organization headquartered in Brussels, which regroups the
Giovani Ebrei d’Italia)14, which was created at the constituent convention held in Milan on 21 May 1995. Jewish youth associations from various countries (the UGEI among them). Every other year, the UGEI
According to its Charter “The Union of Young Jews of Italy coordinates and regroups the Jewish youth participates in the national congress, where an Executive Committee is elected, with a delegation of its
associations and the young Jews who join it” (art. 1 dello Statuto). own.

All young Italian Jews aged 18 to 35 are members of the organization. While nearly all Italian Jews are
b. Muslim communities
Islam is characterized by the great diversity and plurality of its associations and of its collective subjects: it
 In Turin, for instance, such a comeback has given rise to an open conflict between the community members and the community reli-
gious representative, i.e. its rabbi; a dispute is still going on concerning the rabbi appointment annulment. is much more multi-faceted and complex than the Jewish minority. Talking about Islam as a compact and
10 It is worth recalling that Hebraism is a matrilineal religion, i.e. people are considered to be Jews if they were born of a Jewish mother monolithic entity looks difficult, unless one makes dangerous simplifications: due to the great diversity
of if they become converted to Hebraism. of backgrounds, paths, national appurtenances and religious views, defining its internal organization is
11 The contrast is probably bound to grow, though. As noted by an interviewee, at the last UCEI Convention these groups have re-
quested to be allowed greater access; likewise, the request for official recognition by the State and for the right to access the 8‰ subsidies quite difficult.
is gaining ground. So far, strong opposition by the Community has prevented this transition, but one may have to pay attention to the The situation is even more fragmented in Italy, also due to the many different foreign nationalities; unlike
next congresses. other European countries, Italy has no prevailing nationality within its Muslim population. In general, we
13 may say that Turkish Muslims are prevalent in Germany and Maghrebi Muslims (from Tunisia, Algeria
14 The movement’s official website is at and Morocco) prevail in France; Italy, on the contrary, has no privileged relations with its former colonies

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or with specific countries, and this has resulted in a greater diversity of immigrant countries of origin. Im- 3. Finally, the third pole is made up by the associations whose members are mostly converts; the
migrant inflow and settling rates have also been higher in Italy: Muslim immigration to Italy has started Co.Re.Is is definitely the most representative body in this area. The Co.Re.Is was set up in Milan
much more recently compared to the European average, and this has accelerated the typical settlement in 1993, under the leadership of ‘Abd al Wahid Pallavicini, by some, mostly Italian Muslim intel-
stages of migration processes. As a direct consequence, the Islamic presence in Italy has been highly visible lectuals. On the one hand, the Co.Re.Is promotes cultural initiatives, while on the other hand it
since the very first generation (Guolo, 1999). It is worth recalling that the first major Muslim migratory operates for Muslim representation and for the protection of the religious needs of Muslim people
wave to Italy dates back to the 1970s, with the arrival of Muslim students. The migratory wave motivated living in Italy.
by economic factors only came at a later time. Starting in the 1980s, these students, and in particular the
Union of Muslims Students in Italy (USMI, Unione degli Studenti Musulmani in Italia), started several Many other smaller realities exist alongside these three major currents, and are difficult to assign to one
initiatives in various university cities and began creating meeting places and Islamic-based associations of the three abovementioned poles. The African and Sufi brotherhoods, the Shiite minorities and some
which were, first of all, major meeting points for the people who had migrated to the country; these places other small groups are worth mentioning among these small realities. In the past few years, a few “inde-
became “religious socialization” points only at a later stage, in order to convey Islam to second-generation pendent” groups have been created, often in connection with locally charismatic people15. Among these,
immigrants e and to give Islam a higher profile in the different areas (Massari, 2006). Italian Islam is also we mention:
characterized by a further differentiating factor, namely the more widespread condition of irregularity
and the greater degree of work and residential scattering. Italy also hosts a relevant group of converts (see - the Islamic Union in the West: as pointed out by CESNUR, this was the first (and, up to 1965, only)
Allievi,, who often play a pivotal role in the relations Islamic organization existing in Italy, where it had been created in 1947;
with the State and in the representation strategies. - the Union of Italian Muslims (UMI, Unione Musulmani in Italia), which is chaired by Mr. Abdulaziz
In Italy, Islam is thus a many-sided, diversified and plural phenomenon (Berzano, in Negri and Intro- Khounati, the imām of the so-called “Mosque of Peace” located in Corso Giulio Cesare, in Turin. The
vigne, 2005), with a certain lack of organization. As pointed out by several researchers, this complicates Union of Muslims of Italy was created in 2007; it claims a “privileged relationship” with the Islamic Af-
the relations of this religious minority with other minorities and with the State; the latter does not cur- fairs Ministry of Morocco and it seems to aim at federating the reference mosques for the Moroccan im-
rently look set to promote a structured dialogue and to reach an agreement with the Muslim reality. migrant communities. The Union is very active in the field of imam training. It has currently been joined
According to most researchers (see Guolo in Belluati, 2007), Italian Islam is characterized by three poles by about fifty centres distributed all over Italy;
in mutual competition at the religious and political levels, namely mosque Islam, State Islam (with two - the Union of Muslims of Italy (UMI, Unione Musulmani d’Italia) has a very limited membership, but
kinds of organizations for Italian Sunni Islam) and convert associations. it has often made headlines owing to the provocative statements released by its founder and chairman,
Adel Smith;
1. Mosque Islam regroups the neo-traditionalist groups which identify with the UCOII. The - the Italian Muslim Association (AMI, Associazione Musulmani Italiani), which was founded by Italian
UCOII was created in 1990 in Ancona, as a follow up to the Union of Muslim Students of Italy citizens who have converted to Sunni Islam. This association is mainly active in such areas as the inter-
(USMI, Unione Studenti Musulmani in Italia); its goal was to provide Muslims living in Italy religious dialogue and the support to the coexistence of Western and Islam cultural traditions.
with information, services and some kind of representation before the State, as well as recognition
by the State. The UCOII aims at promoting Italian Islam, and at putting worship places at the This plurality of bodies, however, is by no means representative of Italian Muslims as a whole, as many of
core of a bottom-up strategy for Islam visibility, as well as at making them the reference point for them “prefer keeping a lay attitude or more personal and private forms of religiousness” (Massari, 2003,
Muslims living in Italy. page 47).
2. State Islam (strongly tied to Morocco and Saudi Arabia) is represented in Italy chiefly by the
mosque of Rome (the Islamic cultural centre of Italy). As highlighted by CESNUR, this pole is Given such an extensive scattering, it is no surprise that problems exist in relating with this minority and
the reference point for the Sunni, pro-Western Muslim groups, as well as for other groups which in trying common approaches even to matters that are of common interest to the various groups (e.g. the
do not trust the Muslim Brotherhood and other fundamentalist organizations. State Islam aims places of worship and the recognition of some religious freedom rights) and need common answers. This
at following citizens living abroad, rather than delegating Islam representation to “grassroots” difficulty is tied to a further thorny issue with Islam, namely the lack of some universally acknowledged
organizations set up in Western countries, which have a broadly fundamentalist stance or have religious hierarchy and leadership, which makes it even harder for Muslims to provide a unitary represen-
been created as a kind of opposition against the governments of the countries of origin. Besides tation (Saint - Blancat, 1999) and gives rise to a lack of community representatives. This issue is currently
the support provided by Libya to the Islamic Union in the West, the other Italian instances of very hard to solve at the national level, but it gives rise to quite a few complications at the local level, too.
“State Islam” include the “State mosque” of Palermo, which is directly managed by the Tunisian The lack of leadership and representation often creates confusion within the communities, and in some
government, the Islamic Cultural Institute (ICI, Istituto Culturale Islamico), which is supported instances the religious representatives end up prevailing; these are the mosque imams, who are only tem-
by the Egyptian government, and the Cultural Mission of the Embassy of Morocco, which sup- porary prayer leaders and are not the political representatives of the communities. While religious leaders
ports several “grassroots” mosques related to no associations or federations (Introvigne, in Negri
and Introvigne, 2005).
15 For further details about the various currents and organizations, please visit the CESNUR (Centro studi sulle nuove religioni) website

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do sometimes appoint themselves as representatives of their entire local communities, in their frantic The GMI currently has about 400 members, mostly aged 15 to 17, while its leaders are aged 18 to 25.
search for counterparts they may talk to the local government or the media often end up legitimating and Girls are prevalent; to them, the Association is often a major liberation opportunity, as well as a way to
“appointing” the local imams as official representatives of the communities, thereby contributing to the meet people of their age, to start a path towards independence from their families and to gain a better
confusion and to the increasing importance of the mosques. A “representation vacuum” clearly exists, but awareness of Islam.
it is often met by the local governments’ unwillingness to facilitate a process of dialogue and negotiation
among the various elements.

Therefore, the representation problem is currently still unsolved. As already pointed out by some surveys Association: Young Muslims of Italy (GMI, Giovani Musulmani d’Italia)
(Belluati, 2007, page 95), however, several players seem to be putting forward a proposal to create an 1. No. of members About 400
elected representative: to this end, some leaders (such as UMI representative Abdelaziz Kounati) suggest
2. Age Most members (71%) are aged 15 to 17; the leaders are aged 18 to 25.
to hold regional elections in order to appoint a group representatives at the national level; these would
be chosen by the communities in a bottom-up process and would not, as it often happens today, be peo- 3. Gender Girls are both more numerous (60%) and more active within the Association.

ple who think of themselves as community representatives and self-appoint themselves as such through All members (but three converts and three children of Italian converts) are children of immigrants. Most
4. Generation members were either born in Italy (44%) or raised in the country since early primary school (50%); the
murky processes. remaining members immigrated to Italy at age 10 to 14 (6%).

Most member parents are from Morocco (50%), but a significant share of the more active members have
The Young Muslims of Italy (GMI, Giovani Musulmani d’Italia)16 group is the only national-level Islamic 5. Country of origin Syrian parents (20%), followed by Egyptians (11%), Jordanians (6%), Palestinians (6%), Tunisians (3%),
youth association. It was created in 2001 by other youth associations (such as the Islamic Youth Group Algerians (1%) and Others (3%).

(Gruppo Giovanile Islamico) and The Broker (Il Mediatore)), which later disappeared from the national 6. Education
Most members (75%) are in high school (both lyceum and vocational schools); the leaders are university
students (in science, humanities and social studies).
Fathers are mostly blue collar workers (52%), with a significant share of physicians (20%) and shopkeepers
7. Social background
(21%); a lower share (7%) have other jobs.
Most youth associations have always been dependent on the UCOII; the GMI itself originally had strong
ties with the UCOII. Many founding members actually belonged to the UCOII, and the first national Among the various regions, Emilia Romagna hosts the highest share of branches (44%), followed by Lom-
8. Geographical distribution bardia (22%), Piedmont (20%), Trentino Alto Adige (5%), Tuscany (3%), Umbria (2%) and Other areas (4%).
meetings of the association were held concurrently with those of the main Muslim association of Italy. The Association is headquartered in Milan (Lombardia).
As noted by Frisina (in Cesari and Pacini, 2005), the GMI gradually parted from the UCOII, due to a Source: Frisina (in Cesari and Pacini, 2005, page 160)
growing need for autonomy, independence of thought and social as well as cultural diversity. Today the
association is therefore very different from, and independent of, the organization to which it initially The GMI deals with several topics. At the national level, over the years the Association has concerned
seemed to be tied. itself quite extensively with country-wide Islamophobia, often by tackling one of the main sources of
prejudices, namely the mass media: to this end, its leaders have looked for as many high profile events as
It is once again Frisina who analyses the possible reasons why the association was created, first and fore- possible (roundtables, discussions and meetings, as well as press releases and the like) where they could
most the generational aspect and, therefore, the need for the young founders (who were all around 18) to tackle these issues and bring their viewpoint into the public arena. The members are quite determined to
start a new course towards a greater independence of their parents. Teenagers live in a different situation work towards “a different image of themselves” and to go beyond the dominating, security-biased opinion,
compared to the adults, and have a very different life experience, as they mostly belong to the so-called whereby Muslims are branded as potential terrorists. As pointed out by one female interviewee: “As both
second generations. A further reason may lie in the fact that the GMI was created a few months after the foreigners and Muslims, we are often facing twofold problems and stereotypes: we are often described as
terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, i.e. a watershed that marked a major turning point from the po- monsters, particularly when people talk about crime” (Sarah Amzil, GMI; interview of June 2009).
litical and cultural viewpoint and generated a strong bewilderment in those young people who were born
and/or raised in the West; the attacks also gave rise to the need to set up some “defence” from the climate At the local level, the Association works to promote inter-religious and intercultural exchange and discus-
of growing fear and Islamophobia that arose in their aftermath. As pointed out by Frisina herself after sion opportunities by organizing meetings, roundtables and public discussions with the Christian Associ-
interviewing several members of the association, her survey showed that “it was a heavy burden to always ation of Italian Workers (ACLI, Associazioni Cristiane Lavoratori Italiani), with the Boy Scouts and with
feel “involved” as “alleged culprits” for being Muslims” (Frisina, ibid., page 145). This reveals some sort of the Union of Young Jews of Italy (UGEI, Unione Giovani Ebrei d’Italia). Encounters with other religious
need to justify one’s appurtenance to Islam within a broader social context (Massari, 2004, page 52). denominations are organized in various cities every year on the Day of Christian - Islamic Dialogue (last
The GMI has the following organizational structure: the Member Gathering appoints both the Chairman Friday of the Ramadan)17.
and the Executive Board (every 2nd year). At the local level, each branch has a manager and a managing
committee of its own, who are appointed by the branch member gathering.
17 An inter-religious soccer tournament has been set up for the past 2-3 years in Milan, as well as many interchange activities with the
Focolari (Hearth) communities, the ACLI Christian group, the Boy Scouts, etc. In October 2008, many cooperative initiatives with other
16 religious bodies were set up on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Al Rahman mosque of Milan. In 2006, then Youth Policy Min-

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The Association also deals with topics which are deeply tied to the appurtenance to, as well as to the ac- Scout Musulmani d’Italia)19 was created, to take care of Scouting for young people aged 7 to 14 (i.e. the
tive participation in, the hosting society. Citizenship is a basic subject for the Association, which often age group which is not covered by the GMI).
tackles it both from the standpoint of social and political participation (to this end, the local branches set The ASMI is the first Boy Scout group of Italian Muslims; it is inspired by Boy Scout founder Baden
up many initiatives aimed at granting their members civic engagement opportunities) and from a formal Powell’s ideals, and it currently has about 40 members20.
citizenship viewpoint, with the recognition of social, civic and political rights to second-generation youth According to the ASMI website “In Scouting you can find all the basic values of Islam. While playing
living in Italy. As already pointed out, in most cases young members were born or raised in Italy since together, young people learn how to make a fire pr how to build themselves some shelters, but they also
their infancy; their sense of appurtenance is therefore quite well developed, so that they display strong progress along a path of spiritual growth. Religion is always proposed, ad never imposed”.
social and civic engagement. Many GMI members claim to feel “Italian and Muslim”, and they often After a preparatory phase of about a year and a half, in May 2009 the first national branch of the Associa-
follow their own individual paths to Islam; they are proud of their religion (which they display in public), tion of Muslim Italian Scouts (ASMI, Associazione Scout Musulmani Italiani) was created in Verona. Its
but on the other hand they do not want it to be their only source of appurtenance. Many GMI members national chairman is Mr. Salah Ouaouinat, a Moroccan-origin resident of our town since a few years.
thus multiply their identification roles and implement multiple appurtenance patterns; to this end, the
different social networks they are part of play a basic role, as they allow these young people to exchange
ideas with other youth having different religious, social and cultural backgrounds (Massari, 2003, page
55). As stated on its website “The Association has given itself the main goal to provide answers to the
day-to-day problems young people face in their families, at school, in the streets and in public places. III. The relations with the state and the prevailing social problems
Young Muslims are aged 14 to 30, they were born and/or raised in Italy, their education and their culture
are Italian, but they profess their Muslim religion and their backgrounds differ from those of the other
Italian youth. This synthesis of two different, though not conflicting identities leads young Muslims to a. Jewish communities
face in a special way the society they live in. This twofold identity plays a decisive role for young Muslim The relations between the State and the Jewish communities are managed through the UCEI. On 27
development and growth” ( February 1987, the State of Italy and the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI., Unione delle
ew=article&id=99&Itemid=86). Comunità Ebraiche Italiane) signed a Memorandum of Understanding, which was transposed into Act
The GMI therefore strives to support the young in their search for a “balanced identity”, which relates No. 101 of 8 March 1989 and its subsequent amendment of 20 December 1996 (Act No. 638)21. The rela-
to the fact that young Muslims often live in Italy, but have Muslim and immigrant backgrounds, so that tions between the State and the UCEI are currently regulated by these Acts; they deal with some major
they straddle two cultures, two languages and two worlds. As pointed out by one female interviewee, “the topics, among which it is worth mentioning the guarantee of spiritual assistance at hospitals, retirement
first generation, i.e. our parent’s generation, has done a wonderful job, but we need to keep on along the homes and penitentiaries, religious teaching, the civic recognition of religious marriages, the recogni-
same route, and reinforce our ties to Italian society. As second-generation youth, our strong point is be- tion of legal bodies, and the participation in the allotment of the 8‰ share of the Income tax revenues
ing Italian, as well as Muslim and foreigners. Under this respect, we are a perfect bridge between Italian (IRPEF). Further special rules deal with Hebraism own identity, namely the right to resting on Saturdays,
society and our parents, and we may contribute a lot to this end” (Sarah Amzil, GMI, interview of June the recognition of Jewish holidays (which the authorities must take into account when planning test and
2009). contest schedules), the right to take oaths with one’s head covered, ritual slaughtering22 and the granting
GMI members also pay quite a lot of attention to the European framework, they are interested in the of special cemetery areas for the perpetual burial of the dead.
chances and opportunities associated to over-national citizenship, and they are interested in such social As noted by Turin Jewish community Chairman Tullio Levi, in the Memorandum of Understanding
topics as unemployment, justice and peace, just like many Italians of their age group. with the Jewish communities the State recognizes the Jewish religion, but it also recognizes the Jewish
Through their local branch and their national-level boards, GMI members also organize many such play communities as original social bodies, thereby acknowledging the peculiarities of Jewish people not only
and aggregation initiatives as camps, common outings and public rallies. Every year, a national meeting from a religious viewpoint, but from a social standpoint as well23. On the other hand, the Statute of the
of all members is organized. Jewish communities is “highly democratic, and it integrates the principles of separation between the
Finally, each local branch meets once or twice a week to discuss current topics concerned with social is-
sues, as well as domestic and international policy.
The Association of Young Muslims of Italy also takes part in the National Youth Forum, which offers
GMI members an opportunity to work and discuss with many other Italian youth organizations18. 20
Besides the GMI, two years ago the Association of Muslim Boy Scouts of Italy (ASMI, Associazione degli 21 The agreement was signed on 27 February 1987 by then Prime Minister Bettino Craxi and by UCEI Chairwoman Tullia Zevi, after
many years of talks, special conventions, studies and proposals, in particular by the Union of the Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI.,
Unione delle Comunità Ebraiche Italiane) juridical committee (which was made up by Guido Fubini, Vittorio Ottolenghi, Giorgio Sac-
erdoti and Dario Tedeschi, all of them lawyers); please go to
22 Such right is protected in Italy, but some interviewees have pointed out that protecting the ritual practices is sometimes impossible
ister Giovanna Melandri invited three delegations, representing the Young Muslims of Italy, the Catholic Youth and the Jewish Youth, to in other European States. In Switzerland, for instance, kosher slaughtering has been forbidden for many years now, and Swiss Jews need
visit together in Rome the places of worship of the three major monotheistic religions. This initiative is also mentioned in the association’s to import their kosher meat at a non-negligible extra cost.
website as an important chance to keep moving along the way of dialogue and co-operation. 23 The case is different, for instance, with the Waldensian denomination, which does not have separate social practices to be protected
18 through an agreement with the State of Italy.

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secular and the religious powers. I think this is a very positive aspect, which may be a model for similar secutions25. The local communities also put quite some effort in the restoration of buildings with religious
agreements with other religious denominations” (from the interview of June 2009 with Tullio Levi). purposes (synagogues, cemeteries and the like), even if they are no longer in use.
In the past few years, the communities have been engaged in various activities and campaigns; as pointed
As far as their relations with civil society are concerned, the Jewish communities are often very well rooted out by the UCEI Deputy Chairwoman, these included both cultural topics, e.g. the Jewish cultural
at the local level, and their members are active not only at the community, but at the social level, too; this heritage protection and restoration work (which was supported by some funding from the Ministry for
makes the relations with the various government levels, with other associations and with the local envi- Cultural and Environmental Assets) and some major social and ethical topics (e.g. expressing the Jewish
ronment easier. This is particularly true of some older communities with deep historical roots, e.g. those viewpoint by participating in the discussions which took place in Italy concerning Eluana Englaro’s sad
of Rome and Turin, whose members are mostly from these areas (unlike the community of Milan) and story). The UCEI recently provided some relief to the Abruzzi region earthquake victims.
which therefore display a strong engagement in civil society.

In their relations with the State, as well as in their day-to-day life, the communities tackle some major
social topics and demands dealing with many issues contained in the abovementioned Memorandum. As
b. Muslim communities
pointed out by Claudia De Benedetti “they have to do with political, religious, ethical and social topics re- As we have noted while talking about representation and leadership (see page 11), Islam is distinguished,
lating to the Jewish presence in Italy and to the relations between Italian Hebraism and the State of Israel, like Hebraism and unlike Catholicism, by being “a religion with neither a centre nor a fixed and recog-
as well as between Italian Hebraism and the other religious denominations” (interview of June 2009). nized hierarchy, but for the Shiite minority” (Guolo, in Belluati, 2007). This hinders the start of a unitary
dialogue with the State, and has so far prevented Muslims living in Italy from acquiring the juridical
One further area of activities is concerned with cultural and social topics. The communities put a con- recognition granted by some agreement with the State. At the same time, as already pointed out, some
siderable effort in managing establishments which are open to both Jews and non-Jews, such as their opposition undoubtedly exists both at the local and at the national level, both by local authorities and by
schools24. They also dedicate a lot of energy to anti-Semitism monitoring (a special committee of the the central government, to start a broad and coherent dialogue with Islam and its various elements, as well
Union is dedicated to this activity). The communities look alert to discrimination issues involving their as to grant this religious denomination some rights and some room for discussions. From this viewpoint,
religious minority, but more generally to racist and xenophobic displays aimed at other social groups as the scattering of formal and informal bodies of Italian Islam and the clear difficulties one encounters
well. In 2008, for instance, the Roma minority was targeted by several racist campaigns; on that occasion, when trying to identify the most representative organizations sometimes become an excuse for politicians,
several awareness initiatives were organized on these topics. As reminded by Tullio Levi, “in general, we who can avoid tackling the problem and meeting the complex challenges Islam currently raises to Italian
are worried by this racist and xenophobic climate. The Jewish community aside, it is a worrying sign of society and to its government.
social involution to us as Jews” (interview of June 2009).
Therefore, a Memorandum of Understanding with the Italian government currently looks like a dead-
The local communities put considerable efforts in one further topic, namely the relations with the State of end for Muslims living in Italy. As noted by Introvigne (in Introvigne and Negri, 2005, page 32), on 15
Israel and the associated activities. These efforts have to do with both celebrations and defence displays (in April 2000 the Islamic Council of Italy (Consiglio Islamico d’Italia) was formally set up to solve these
particular whenever the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians flares up), as well as with the activities issues; the Council was supposed to become a unitary body representing Islam, to sign a Memorandum
aimed at a better understanding of Israeli reality by (particularly, though not exclusively) young Jews. of Understanding with the State and to manage it subsequently. Its founding members were the UCOII
(representing “mosque Islam”), the Italian branch of the Muslim World League (or World Islamic League)
The communities, especially but not exclusively the community of Turin, recently rallied to defend Israel’s and, after some disputes with its Moroccan group, which opposed such a Memorandum, the Islamic Cul-
right to participate in the Turin Book Fair (Salone del Libro) of 2008. On that occasion, some local leftist tural Centre of Italy (representing “State Islam”).
opposition movements protested against Israel participation; the communities organized many protection
and awareness activities, sometimes through the activation of city-level inter-religious dialogue channels The new body was chaired by ambassador Mario Scialoja, of the Muslim World League; its Deputy
(see next paragraph). Chairman was Dachan Mohamed Nour, of the UCOII, an Italian citizen who had been a prominent rep-
resentative of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. Its steering committee was made up by 14 members, out
Finally, the communities, and particularly the UCEI, tackle economic issues as well, e.g. the 8‰ tax of which 7 representing the UCOII, 3 representing the Islamic Cultural Centre of Italy, 3 representing the
revenue allotment or the economic compensations to those who suffered damages during the Fascist per- Italian branch of the Muslim World League and 1 representing the Centre and the League by common
agreement. The new body thus created represented Italian (Sunni) Islam, and was seen as a bond between
“mosque Islam” and, despite Moroccan dissent, that part of “State Islam” which is driven, or directed at
24 In Turin, for instance, the school has been open to Jewish and non-Jewish pupils since the post-war years. The school has been a the least, by Saudi Arabia. This interesting attempt, however, was swept away by the events which oc-
traditional reference to the Waldensians, who appreciate its lay state, which is sometimes stricter than at State schools. The kindergarten
management is an interesting case: the kindergarten is a district school of San Salvario (one of the multiethnic districts of Turin) under
an arrangement with the city municipal services, and some of its pupils are from Morocco. As Tullio Levi points out: “This school has a
twofold value; on the one hand, it allows Jewish pupils to be in touch with the outer world from the start, while on the other hand it allows 25 People who think they are entitled to damages have to submit an application to the UCEI, who provide their advice and forwards the
the outer world to familiarize with the Jewish community”. associated file. If the right is recognized, the applicant receives a compensation pension.

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curred after 11 September 2001; this also gave rise to a deep crisis in the relations between Saudi Arabia A Religious Freedom Act as an alternative to bilateral agreements?
and the Muslim Brotherhood, and led to the demise of the initiative. Historical developments
The Italian Government has been working for several terms at the implementation of the principle of religious freedom at the institutional and regulatory level.
Indeed, violating religious freedom at the individual, collective or institutional level actually means “violating at the same time the other basic rights, such as the
Other attempts at reaching some agreement with the State had already been made in the past, and au- freedom of gathering, the freedom of association and the freedom of conscience” (Giuseppe Dalla Torre, jurist and rector of the LUMSA, Avvenire, 28 August
2008).On 14 September 2001, Members of Parliament Spini, Adduce, Amici and others re-submitted a Law Proposal titled Rules on Religious Freedom and
tonomously, by several Muslim organizations, among which it is worth mentioning the UCOII (in 1990 Repeal of the Laws on the Allowed Religious Denominations (Norme sulla libertà religiosa e abrogazione della legislazione sui culti ammessi, C-1576). That Law
and 1992)26 and the Co.Re.Is. (in 1996)27. Proposal picked up the text of a previous proposal (No. C-3947, submitted in July 1997), which had already gathered broad acceptance during the 13th term
(Prodi cabinet), after its long course had been started by Honourable Maselli. Its introductory report pointed out that the Consitutional Court had repeatedly
stepped in to gradually remove those provisions of the law on the allowed religions which were incompatible with the principles enshrined in the Constitution
One further attempt, this time by the State and with a top-down approach, was made on 30 November (thereby producing a set of patchy laws); the report also stressed that a considerable share of the Italian constitutional doctrine had suggested (and still did
suggest) the absolute need to entirely and simply repeal the laws in point, and to replace them by the only way foreseen by the Constitution to discipline the
2005, when the Minister of the Interior created the Council for Italian Islam. This Council was not meant relations with the non-Catholic denominations. Furthermore, the ongoing international migration processes, as well as some cultural and philosophical trends,
had meanwhile diversified the religious landscape of the country even further.
to be a representative body, but had a purely consulting role; it was made up by 16 members (half of
them Italian citizens) coming from the cultural areas and the associations of the so-called “secular Islam”, The Law Proposal by Spini (C-1576)
The proposed law is made up by 4 main sections. The first one includes 14 articles, and it deals with the freedom of conscience and religion. In this area, it reaf-
as well as from religious associations. Sunni Islam was represented by the UCOII, the Muslim World firms and further specifies the constitutional principles concerning these matters. Indeed, article 1 guarantees the freedom of conscience and religion pursuant
to the Constitution, the International Conventions on Human Rights and to the generally accepted principles of International Law. Article 2 details such rights
League, the Co.Re.Is. and the UIO; non-Sunni Islam was represented by the Chairwoman of the Italian and also provides for their constitutional boundaries. Article 3 prevents any discriminations or constraints, as well as any obligations to specifically state one’s
Ismailitic Community. On the one hand, the Council might allow the second religious denomination of denominational appurtenance. Article 4 deals with child education and upbringing. Article 5 extends to religious and worship practices the rights of gathering
and associations provided by articles 17 and 18 of the Constitution. Article 6 guarantees the freedom to join and leave a religious association; article 7 confirms
the country to finally get into a formal circuit where it may submit its requests, but on the other hand it the right to act as dictated by one’s conscience, while at the same time respecting the rights and duties defined by the Constitution. Article 8 describes the
ran the chance of being a unitary body forced from the top down, with the splits and issues which have rights associated to serving in the armed forces or similar bodies, being in custody at prevention and detainment institutions, as well as the associated religious
support. Article 9 states that it is illegal to discriminate people in their workplaces because of their religious appurtenance or their being members of a religious
already been pointed out. Concerning this initiative, some criticism and some controversy were levelled association. Article 10 contains provisions for the recognition of religious ministers, while article 11 deals with religious marriages validity at the civil level. Article
by the representatives of other minority bodies, who considered the Council as little representative of the 12 deals with the religious rights of students, while articles 13 and 14 deal with the duties levied on public worship places and on the posting up and distribution
of printed matter associated to religious life. The second section (articles 15 to 26) deals with religious denominations and associations, as well as with their pos-
complex reality of Islam in Italy. Under this respect, the Council displayed several limitations, and it cur- sible juridical recognition. The third section (articles 27 to 36) deals with the signing of Memoranda of Understanding, while the fourth section contains some
rently looks deadlocked (and it was never summoned again after April 2008, when current Minister of conclusive and temporary provisions.

the Interior, Mr. Maroni, took charge). Review and discussion within the Constitutional Affairs Committee
On 30 May 2002, the text was submitted to the 1st Constitutional Affairs Committee to be assessed together with two further competing law proposals (namely
proposals C-2531, submitted by the cabinet on 18 March 2002, and C-1902, submitted by MP Mr. Molinari, on 6 November 2001). The proposal mover, Hon.
This difficulty is actually common to other European states, too, where similar attempts at creating Sandro Bondi (of the Forza Italia party), started by making reference to Piero Calamandrei (a jurist who complained about the fact that several laws from an
authoritarian regime survived behind the democratic façade of the Constitution, which only sets out in writing the basic rights of the citizens, as guaranteed
elected or appointed representative bodies have been carried out with mixed success28. For the time be- against any government abuse), then went on noting that the proposal under discussion aimed at:
ing, the issue of a unitary representation thus looks far from being solved; in Italy, therefore, Islam does 1. fully implementing the Constitutional principles concerning religious freedom, while concurrently repealing Law No. 1153 of 1929 concerning religious
denominations other than Catholicism; with reference to the concept of state religion enshrined in the Lateran Covenant, the law defined such denomina-
not benefit from the kind of juridical recognition other religious minorities (such as the Jewish and Wal- tions as ‘allowed’;
densian communities) have been granted; this would be the only way to start easier, longer lasting and 2. contributing to the implementation of the Constitutional protection of collective religious interests, thereby facilitating bodies, associations and organiza-
tions with worship purposes in their day-to-day life and in their free and specific expression;
more fruitful relations with the State both at the national and at the local level. As pointed out by some 3. formally implementing the third subparagraph of article 8 of the Constitution, which deals with the signing of Memoranda of Understanding with reli-
researchers, the existing issue with the Memoranda of Understanding between the State and the religious gious denominations, by defining and regulating the procedures to be followed to finalize such Memoranda;
4. extending to all religious denominations, regardless of their signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the State, the guarantees granted to the
minorities actually highlights an Italian paradox which does not help breaking the deadlock: “in Italy, Catholic denomination or to the other denominations which had already signed such a Memorandum;
the Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) have actually become a substitute for a Religious Freedom Act, 5. preventing Law No. 1159 of 1929 from being further enforced within a legal system inspired by different values, with penalizing and discriminatory conse-
quences for those denominations which had not signed a Memorandum with the State.
while they should only be agreements between the State and the different denominations. The various The discussions carried on until September 2005, when they got stranded again. In 2006, Hon. Spini re-submitted the proposal (C-134), which was assigned to
MoUs with the latter do contain provisions which should actually be defined in a Religious Freedom Act” the Constitutional Affairs Committee on 3 July 2006, where it was discussed up to July 2007. The last formal actions consist of the submittal, by Hon Zaccaria and
other MP from the PdL party, of a proposal titled Rules on Religious Freedom (Norme sulla libertà religiosa, No. C-448), which was assigned to the Constitutional
(Guolo, in Belluati, 2007, page 32). Affairs Committee in August 2008, and of the submittal, by Democratic Party Senator Magda Negri, of Law Proposal No. 618 containing Rules on Religious Free-
dom and the Repealing of the Laws on Allowed Religious Denominations (Norme sulla libertà religiosa e abrogazione della legislazione sui culti ammessi).
Despite the clear provisions contained in the Constitution to this end, religious freedom has not been fully implemented in Italy so far, as Senate Deputy Chair-
man Vannino Chiti recently underscored (13 June 2009, in Rome, on the occasion of an event titled Equally free: the Evangelical Churches for the full implemen-
tation of the Constitutional provisions on Religious Freedom (Ugualmente libere. Le chiese evangeliche per la piena attuazione del dettato costituzionale sulla
libertà religiosa event).

As it can be inferred from the many statements and the posture taking, as well as from the abovemen-
tioned Memorandum proposals, many topics and social demands are really felt as urgent by the Islamic
communities, and are tackled at the local and national levels.  Maria Ss. Assunta free university
 The full text is available at
26 Go to http// for the full text of the proposal  See
27 Go to for the full text of the proposal  See
28 This is the case with Belgium, France and Spain, whose governments have tried to stimulate the creation of unified or representative
bodies (see Guolo, in Belluati (ed.), 2007, p. 32).

68 69

Some of them directly refer to the religious practices, among them the possibility to pray during the day, delay Italy, too, is moving towards discussing and taking sides on this subject; in several other European
as prescribed by the rituals, and in particular on Fridays, as well as to observe some religious festivals countries, e.g. France, the debate has led to the adoption of very specific regulations concerning the issue.
(such as the Ramadan); Muslims demand that these opportunities be granted at school and at work, just Under this respect, a typical case occurred in July 2007, when a Tunisian woman living in Cremona was
as it is with other denominations. A further demand has to do with the civil recognition of the marriages put on trial for violating Law 152 of 22 May 1975 Concerning public peace (which forbids dressing in a
celebrated according to the Islamic rituals, as well as with the availability of special cemetery areas for the way that prevents identification) because she was wearing her burqa while attending her husband trial for
burial of deceased Muslims (this has been granted by some Italian municipalities). international terrorism.
Other highly specific proposals are contained e.g. in the draft Memorandum of Understanding with the
At the moment, one of the most pressing issues for the Islamic communities of Italy has definitely to do Co.Re.Is., such as Islamic school recognition (as in the case of other private denominational schools) and
with the places of worship. In the past few years these have multiplied in Italy: while in the 1970s only the deductibility of the ritual alms, both in the form of money and of goods, from the devotee total tax-
one mosque existed in the country, and specifically in Rome, in May 2007 the places of worship and the able income.
registered associations were about 735 (Caritas file 2008, page 200). Only three of these, however, are Finally, it is worth recalling that an intense focus exists on immigrant population rights in general, since
real mosques from an architectural viewpoint (one each in Rome, Milan and Catania), while in many in- Muslims are mostly foreigners. Many Muslim communities, in particular, focus on issues related to stay
stances inadequate spaces predominate; these are often located underground or in garages. Many hurdles permits and voting rights, as well as on the discriminations affecting foreigners living in Italy. Being
and oppositions hinder the construction of new spaces, and on this subject different political opinions second-generation immigrants, young Muslims look particularly active in this area; they are quite suscep-
exist, even on the part of the religious communities themselves. The Catholic church, for instance, dithers tible to these matters and rather “combative” concerning civil and political right recognition.
between openings29 and perplexities30, while other religious communities (see the contribution by Tullio
Levi in this report) seem to display some solidarity and attention to this need.
The Islamic communities demand that permits be granted to build new mosques and prayer halls, in
order to meet the spiritual needs of Islamic denomination people while at the same time abiding by local
city-planning requirements and by environmental and artistic constraints. IV. The relations with the other religious communities
It is worth remembering that in the past few years many Muslim associations (the UCOII and the UMI
among them) have been active in the area of imam training; this is a highly sensitive issue, which is often
raised as a hurdle along the way towards a real transparency and guarantee of the role of mosques. Efforts Jewish and Muslim communities
are being made to identify suitable procedures to guide imam selection and provide the State with some No permanent, structured inter-religious dialogue bodies currently exist in Italy at the national level, but
guarantee by the time it recognizes the places of worship; the criteria, for instance, include knowing Ital- individual, experimental initiatives have been started at the local level (e.g. the Inter-religious Dialogue
ian and the Italian culture, guaranteeing that preaching is done in Italian and so on. Days or the Day of Christian - Islamic Dialogue on the last Friday of the Ramadan).
Other specific demands by the Islamic communities, on the contrary, are concerned with social and cul-
tural practices, e.g. the possibility to adopt specific nutritional practices at school and work cafeterias (ac- Quite often, therefore, the religious communities (Jewish and Muslim communities are no exception)
tually, quite often these have already been taken into account in Italy at various local levels, where public delegate the inter-religious dialogue to some individuals or bodies of their own, but there are no discussion
bodies pay attention to protecting specific religious practices), as well as to follow the Islamic slaughtering groups or bodies at the national level. There are however a good many different initiatives and experimen-
ritual. Some demands have been put forward in health care, too, e.g. for child circumcision. Once again, tations at the local level, so that the opportunities for dialogue and discussion develop at the practical,
different situations exist in the country: some Regions seem to be allowing this practice, and have started interpersonal level. Some bodies (e.g. municipal and regional governments) have kicked off their own in-
some trials at public hospitals so that immigrants can carry them out at no cost31, while other Regions ter-religious dialogue initiatives, but these are still local instances at the moment: in our opinion, the most
have not granted this special treatment yet. significant among these are the Council for inter-religious dialogue and for peace among cultures, which
was set up by the Tuscany regional government in 200632, and Interfaith Committee of Turin, which was
A more controversial issue has to do with the right of the Islamic faithful to dress according to their tradi- set up on the occasion of the 2006 Winter Olympics and has been active since 200733.
tion while in public places as well. Veil use by Islamic women keeps being the subject of broad and heated
discussions, and stances are still quite different and far apart on this topic in Italy. Although with some As far as the Jewish communities are concerned, some groups focus on inter-religious discussions, e.g. the
Jewish - Christian Friendship Group, which is particularly active in the Emilia Romagna region and in
29 On 12 May 2008, the diocese of Padua issued a document reminding that “the issue with the mosque is first of all a complex cultural
problem, and it has to do with the relations between the city and our Christian communities, on the one hand, and a different, as well as
relatively new, social and cultural reality, on the other hand”. Furthermore, some dioceses (Treviso, Mantua and Brescia) have recently 32
granted the use of some premises, or of the churches themselves, for Muslim prayers. visualizza_asset.html_886614533.html
30 During a press conference held on 28 May 2008, on the contrary, then CEI secretary Monsignor Giuseppe Betori underscored the 33 As pointed out by Claudia De Benedetti, Turin is a laboratory of some sort from this standpoint, because it has made the temporary
advisability of hosting Islamic rituals inside the church premises. Interfaith Committee permanent; the Committee had been set up by the municipality of Turin during the 2006 Winter Olympics. This
31 This is the case with Piedmont, who was the first Regional administration to start a free service access trial within the O.I.R.M. - St. is now a permanent forum in which both political and religious representatives take part. UCEI Chairwoman Mrs. De Benedetti also
Anne hospital (Belluati, 2007). points out that this practice has been found to be beneficial, and that attempts have been made at exporting it into other areas as well.

70 71

Padua (where it is tied to the Saint Anthony group), or the Gregorian University of Rome, which is very
active on this front. The Jewish communities seem to entertain their closest and most regular ties with the
As far as the inter-religious dialogue in Italy is concerned, it is worth remembering the “Charter on the Values and Signifi-
Waldensian community; indeed, various converging interests have historically made these two communi- cance of Citizenship and Integration” (Carta dei valori, della cittadinanza e dell’integrazione), which was drafted by some
ties quite cooperative with each other34. University professors after a broad consultation with representatives of the various religious and immigrant communities.
The Charter was approved by the Ministry of the Interior with a decree dated 23 April 2007. The document recalls the basic
values of equality of rights between men and women and of religious freedom. Concerning the latter, the Charter contains
The relations with the Muslims communities are mostly taken care of by the youth groups. A few years a basic reminder of the need for religion never to turn into a source of violence and coercion, and for the secular State to
ago, a cooperation was set up on the occasion of the Day of Memory; the co-operation is aimed at cel- recognize the role of religion and to support the dialogue among the various denominations and cultures (see Caritas,
2007, pages 199 – 201).
ebrating the “righteous people” of various religions and nationalities35. The adult members of the com-
munity also cooperate with Muslims at the local level, through various exchange instances and oppor-
tunities which deal with cultural and mutual appraisal topics mainly. On the occasion of special events
or festivities, however, special, more clearly social-political co-operations are also set up; as pointed out
by (Turin Jewish community Chairman) Tullio Levi, in 2008 common initiatives were set up with the
Muslim community when furious discussions raged about Israel participation in the Turin Book Fair.
Likewise, the community has sometimes taken a supporting stance on the creation of places of worship V. Discrimination events and public opinion attitudes
for Muslims, who could rely on some support by the Jewish community of Turin. The interviewees state
that the relations, though not always strong and continuous, are generally good and are not mediated by
other bodies (e.g. the local Curia). a. Jewish communities
Starting in 2002, the European Monitoring Centre (EUMC) has issued four publications concerned with
As far as this issue is concerned, Muslim communities are highly diversified. The UCOII has for instance
anti-Semitism in Europe37; these provide several pieces of information about the cases of racism and the
a dedicated representative who takes care of the inter-religious dialogue36, while other organizations have
European public opinion feelings on the Jewish religious minority.
no official structure to that purpose, but do anyway hold a dialogue with other denominations at the local
The most detailed report was published in 2004 (EUMC 2004a), which highlights a worrying surge of
level whenever they can.
anti-Semitic displays in Europe. The report also points out that one can currently identify two kinds of
anti-Semitism, which are labelled as old and new. The new anti-Semitism is characterized by a significant
There is no permanent framework where Muslims can exchange ideas with representatives of other de-
increase of verbal abuse and physical attacks against Jews or Jewish institutions starting in year 2000:
nominations, but relations are established at the local level on the occasion of commemorative days,
such violence permeates the political climate, the communication environment and daily life at various
public initiatives and so on. In this case, too, a broad spectrum of topics is dealt with in the various situ-
levels. Many instances point at the fact that in the past decade anti-Semitism has more and more often
ations, but religious and cultural exchanges seem to prevail over talks concerning more specific topics.
been disguised as criticism aimed at Israel or Zionism, and has sometimes been combined with anti-impe-
Indeed, some interviewees have pointed out that people generally tend to skip political issues (such as the
rialist or anti-racist ideologies. The perpetrators of such actions are often new to the field, and use different
conflict between Israel and the Arabs in the case of Jews and Muslims) in order to avoid disagreement
means to display their anti-Semitism: indeed, the Internet has been an effective channel for the circula-
and confrontation.
tion of anti-Semitism, particularly in the past few years. This is complemented by new ways of redefining
the ‘imaginary Jew’, which is more and more often assigned racist and imperialist traits. As pointed out
by the Observatory on Contemporary Anti-Jewish Prejudice, this need not signal the development of a
new kind of anti-Semitism, since even if “the discussion is still going on, we may reply that the “old” anti-
Semitic stereotypes defining the “Jew” have always included these traits, at least implicitly”.
Based on the information provided by the national Focal Points for the first half of 2002, the EUMC Re-
port of 2004 highlights that EUMC monitors could detect a connection between the worsening climate
and the 11 September 2001 attacks in New York and Washington, as well as the Middle East conflict
escalation alter year 2000, both of which contributed to the renaissance of a latent anti-Semitic hatred.

37 In 2004, two reports were published on the European anti-Semitic displays of 2002 - 2003 (Manifestations of Anti-Semitism in
34 As pointed out, for instance, by Turin Jewish community Chairman Tullio Levi, many Waldensian parsons were educated at the local the EU 2002 - 2003. Based on information by the National Focal Points of the RAXEN Information Network, EUMC, Vienna 2004)
Jewish schools in the past; even now, the attendance of Jewish schools by Waldensian pupils seems to be a fairly well consolidated practice, and on the perceptions of anti-Semitism (Perceptions of Anti-Semitism in the European Union. Voices from Members of the European
at least in Piedmont. Jewish communities, EUMC, Vienna, 2004). The two reports provide very detailed information on the Italian context. Fewer details are
35 On this subject, the interviewees tell some very interesting stories: in Albania, for instance, the Jewish community was not persecuted available, on the contrary, in the other publications, namely the Anti-Semitism, a summary overview of the situation in the European
during World War II, and carried out very important rescue operations against persecutions. Union 2001 - 2005 (EUMC Report, 2006) and the more recent (February 2009) update titled Anti-Semitism, a summary overview of
36 Currently Bahi Nour Eddine, an active member of the UCOII national steering committee. the situation in the European Union 2001 - 2008.

72 73

The wave of anti-Semitic events is therefore largely associated to the Middle East conflict escalation and Looking beyond the data on verbal abuse and physical attack events of the past few years, it is important
to the criticism aimed at Israel’s policy: as in several other European countries, in Italy, too, it mainly to investigate the prevailing opinion climate. In this regard, some interesting results have been produced
entailed verbal abuse, as well as anti-Semitic graffiti and slogans, but no physical attacks. In a few cases, by a few opinion polls. Indeed, as pointed out in the Report on Italy 2007 issued by the Stephen Roth
these displays were carried out by leftist radical groups on the occasion of demonstrations in support of Institute, interesting data on common prejudices and feelings about Jews have been brought to light by
the Palestinians, but also by right-wing extremists, by Islamic fundamentalists and by young Muslims of two surveys carried out in Italy in 200740.
Arabic ancestry. As far as Muslim anti-Semitism in Italy is concerned, the EUMC points out some wor- The work by ISPO showed that about 23% of the surveyed people think Jews can not be considered fully
rying stances by the UCOII, whose leaders sometimes insist on the Jews = Israel equation. At the same Italian, about 26.7% agree with the statement “money keeps being in Jewish hands” and, finally, about
time, however, the EUMC report sees this as a drive to participate in the civil and political life of the 30% think that “Jews talk too much about their tragedies, and do not take into account those of oth-
host country and, e.g., to acquire the right to vote: the young, who were often victims of poor integration ers”.
in civil society, “had not yet assimilated the ideas of Italian democracy, and adopted a hostile attitude The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) survey was part of a Europe-wide one41; it showed the existence of
towards the State, which they expressed through anti-Semitism” (EUMC, 2003, page 22). a worrying climate in Italy, though less so compared to other European countries. In Italy, for instance,
In the same report, the Italian interviewees highlighted that the racism tolerance threshold has risen, also 48% of the surveyed people agree with the statement “Jews are more loyal to Israel” than to the country
due to the repeated anti-immigrant attacks by the Lega Nord party. Although in Italy anti-Semitism is they live in (down from 55% of a different survey of 200542), while in the other European countries this
still taboo in public life, there is some fear that it may gradually creep back if no social antibodies are figure had risen.
developed to oppose it.
Italy - percent responding “probably true” to each statement
The more recent surveys aimed at finding out how discrimination and racism against Jews have evolved
do point at a downward trend. Based on the information collected by the Observatory on Contemporary Jews are more loyal to Israel than 48%
Anti-Jewish Prejudice38, which was also taken up by the recent report by the European Committee on to this country
anti-Semitism (FRA 2009), the instances of discrimination and racism against Jews in Italy currently
seem to be decreasing. In 2007, 53 anti-Semitic incidents were recorded, down from 80 in 2006; 30
out of them had to do with insults and threats during the second Lebanon war (Stephen Roth 200739). 42%
Jews are have too much power
About 30 anti-Semitic events were recorded in 2008; these were mostly vandalistic, openly anti-Jewish, in the business world
racist street writings in various cities. The presence of anti-Semitic material on the Internet has also been 2007
reported; as already pointed out, this trend is most likely going to grow as the new technologies spread,
and it particularly concerns the younger generations and the far-right groups, who communicate using 42%
Jews are have too much power
less controlled channels. in international financial markets
In 2008, an event made the headlines, when the Jewish community of Rome reported that a website
contained a “black list” of 162 professors of various universities, allegedly representing a “power group”
within the university system. After it was exposed, the website was closed and its master was identified Jews still tlk too much about 46%
and charged with privacy law violation and libel for discrimination purposes. what happened to them in the
Holocaust 48%
According to the information provided by the Observatory on Contemporary Amti-Jewish Prejudice, 23
cases were recorded in the first half of 2009 (last update on 11 June 2009).
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70%
As highlighted by the various reports, European Jews are in generally well integrated from a social, eco- Data from the ADL survey of 2005
nomic and cultural viewpoint. Although this rules out typically xenophobic attacks which draw upon
fear associated to competition (social and for jobs or housing) as well as exterior or linguistic diversity, a Finally, prevailing media coverage and mass-media impact need special attention. The EUMC Report
few prejudices are still deeply rooted. One of them, in particular, has deeper roots than one may think, of 2003 highlighted that an aggressive tone exists in the press reports covering the Middle East conflict,
namely the theory of a “Jewish conspiracy”, which surmises the existence of an occult financial and mass and that this can influence public opinion feelings. The Italian interviewees of this survey, in particu-
media power group influencing the policy of the United States (this view is the foundation for the link lar, expressed their wish for a more fair-minded coverage of the Middle East war in the domestic press,
among anti-Americanism, anti-imperialism and anti-Hebraism often detected in Europe).

38 The Observatory is a project by the Foundation for the Jewish Contemporary Documentation Centre (Fondazione Centro di docu- 40 One survey was carried out by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the other one by the Institute for Public Opinion Surveys (ISPO,
mentazione ebraico contemporaneo). Istituto di Studi sulla Pubblica Opinione) of Milan.
a=Episodi&documento=Episodi 41
39 42

74 75
and pointed out a frequent mix-up of the terms Jews and Israel. Although openly anti-Semitic news are
by the major media, even more so in the current, diversified media landscape, where the spreading of the
uncommon, it often turns out that the Arab media convey information which isn’t always objective and
Internet makes effective information vetting quite hard.
correct on this topic.
The recommendations issued at the European level in order to counter the identified trends mainly focus
The Anti-Semitic propaganda on the Internet deserves separate attention. As once again noted in the
on the need to collect as many data and as much information as possible about them and on the need for
EUMC report, as well as on the Observatory website, one can record the onset of “a communication
civil society to rally around this issue by promoting intercultural and inter-religious exchange initiatives
network based on links among the websites of some far-right, Islamic fundamentalist, no-global and
and projects. Finally, it is worth making the media aware of these issues and paying attention to the way
far-left, anti-American groups”. In the past few years, racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic websites have
ethnic and religious minorities are described; this can be done by a constant monitoring of the press.
proliferated in step with the diffusion of web usage. The EUMC specifically highlights that some far-right
musical products circulating on the Internet fuel anti-Semitic feelings; their production and distribution
hubs are mostly located in Scandinavia.
Many racist and xenophobic websites have been identified in Italy (EUMC 2004b); these are connected b. Muslim communities
to the areas of Catholic fundamentalism, of the Lega Nord party and of the Forza Nuova (New Force)
As pointed out in the opening glossary, Islamophobia, i.e. the groundless prejudice against Islam, can take
group. As far as this last group is concerned, its website features several discussion forums which are vis-
up different forms and manifest itself in various ways, such as social exclusion, violence, prejudice and
ited by quite a large share of the registered users and which host the most common anti-Semitic ideas.
discrimination (Runnymede Trust 1997).
Besides these sites, the report points out several far-let websites featuring similar displays.
As we already had the opportunity to highlight, the events of 11 September 2001 marked a major turning
Although public speeches and the mass media are worrying means of racist display, no systematic studies
point under this respect, with a comeback of Islamophobia in several countries. The EUMC didn’t decide
of media-broadcasted representations in the various European countries are currently available, and Italy
by chance to create a set of national observatories right after the tragedy, in order to monitor the possible
is no exception.
increase of these phenomena.
Some interesting points seem to arise from that monitoring43. As pointed out by Massari (2006), in the
Concerning the existence of public entities with a particular impact on the spreading of a racist and anti-
months following 11 September a shift occurred in public discussions; the initial bewilderment was fol-
Semitic climate, both the EUMC Report of 2003 (which goes into great detail on this topic) and the more
lowed by a gradual recourse to stereotypes (which were often there beforehand, but found a more fertile
recent Report on Italy by the Stephen Roth Institute (2007) stress that right-wing anti-Semitism endures
ground to develop in the subsequent months), up to some displays of prejudice and to some outbreaks
in the country. Its leaders are mostly rank-and-file members of parties which have officially distanced
of physical violence against Muslims. Under some respect, after 11 September the racist and xenophobic
themselves from that tradition (e.g. the Alleanza Nazionale party in the first place), but in which fascist
rhetoric has displayed many trends and features typical of historical anti-Semitism, whereby anti-Semitism
and xenophobic attitudes linger. The people interviewed in the Report thus underscore that although
and Islamophobia often draw upon a stereotyped and monolithic image of other denominations.
party leader Gianfranco Fini has officially condemned anti-Semitism, most party rank-and-file seem not
As noted by the EUMC (2006), the Islamic root of the subsequent terrorist attacks in Madrid and Lon-
to share that official stance, and thereby fascism keeps being a positive reference point, particularly for
don has further worsened to some extend the discriminations against Muslims throughout Europe. In
the young.
practice, discrimination shows up in many ways in the job market (with higher than average Muslim
Other public and political entities stand out for their anti-Jewish stance, namely the Forza Nuova group
unemployment rates), in education (with low education and achievement levels) and in generally poor
and some skinhead groups, which are mostly active in Northern and central Italy according to the EUMC
housing conditions (in shabby buildings located in immigrant-packed suburbs). These data clearly show
(2004b). These political groups mainly target immigrants, but they often display pro-Nazi stances. They
that Muslims often suffer from multiple discriminations, whereby the difficulties of being foreigners in
often overlap with hard-core soccer fan groups, too, and there are worrying signals that they are taking
the host countries (with all the problems entails) are compounded with those of being a generally high-
hold in high school student movements. The Movimento sociale - Fiamma tricolore movement of Luca
profile religious minority often associated to Islamic fundamentalism. This situation worsens the inequali-
Romagnoli is one further far right group. Far left groups and their leaders sometimes display anti-Semitic
ties suffered by Muslims, which are largely unexplored since most European countries have no surveying
stances, too; these worry the Italian Jewish communities because they help anti-Semitic feelings and op-
tools specifically aimed at religion-based discriminations.
position to Israel’s policy merge with each other.
These worries are moreover confirmed by European Muslim opinion surveys, once again carried out by
The many existing channels and institutions monitoring these trends and quickly circulating information
the EUMC (2006b), which highlight a widespread feeling of denial of basic citizenship rights across the
on these topics are no doubt an effective response to these displays. In this regard, the already mentioned
various European countries. Muslims complain about a general lack of knowledge about Islam, which is
Observatory on Contemporary Anti-Jewish Prejudice is definitely a relevant channel, which the Italian
partially blamed on the media. These interviews show that discriminations are mostly verbal, rather than
Jewish communities use in order to raise the awareness to these events, so that there is no lapse of atten-
physical, and point at a general lack of the tools needed to counter such phenomena.
tion to these topics. According to the UCEI, the Observatory is a basic tool. Besides the Observatory,
other bodies (the already mentioned Stephen Roth Institute among them) pay attention to these trends
at both the European and the global level through autonomous and independent research and monitor- 43 Over the past few years, the EUMC has issued many reports, some of them worth recalling here. In 2001 and 2002, three reports
ing activities. Many further independent information channels also allow information to be circulated, were issued concerning the way Muslim people were being perceived after the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001; in 2005, a further
although they definitely provide “niche” information and have trouble countering the message conveyed report dealt with the impact of the terrorist attack in London; in 2006, two reports were dedicated to Islamophobia in the various member
States, with a focus on Muslim perceptions in the various countries as well.

76 77

Turning now to the specific situation in Italy, Massari (2006) notes in his work a worrying point, namely being paid to the diversity of Islam cultural and social life, although the situation is slowly changing, and
that these displays have often been met by Italian public opinion with growing approval, or with inad- in some instances the sensitivity of individual journalists or newspapers has allowed some progress to be
equate censure. In this regard, some researchers underscore that some events have actually worked as made under this respect (Belluati, 2007). The attitudes towards Islam are worsened by the tendency to
catalysts of pre-existing fears, resentments and racist feelings, and that the most blatant instances of dis- identify it with Muslim immigrants and to give the topic a markedly ethnic hue (Pace, 2004a). The stere-
crimination and racism aren’t but their most evident displays. otypes are of no help to overcome confusion and one-sided opinions either.
The media aim at providing eye-catching and emotion-raising news; after 11 September, this attitude has
A leading national circulation newspaper, the Corriere della Sera, published for instance a long piece by been particularly beneficial to a few leading figures of radical Islam in Italy, who often express the views of
writer Oriana Fallaci, titled “Rage and pride” (La rabbia e l’orgoglio). Although many national and in- unrepresentative minorities, but who were given room and a saying in public discussions, thereby fuelling
ternational observers thought it was a racist, xenophobic, anti-Arab and Islamophobic piece, it was met a radical image of Islam in Italy. This situation is well illustrated by the public appearances, e.g. in the
with broad and widespread consensus by public opinion, and it was taken up by high-profile scholars and Porta a porta (Door to Door) talk show on a national state network, by Adel Smith, namely the Chair-
politicians. This event highlights a worrying attitude within the Italian public opinion, namely a poor man of the Union of Muslims in Italy, who has openly stated that Osama Bin Laden had no responsibility
reaction and a generalized complacency towards some serious racist events, particularly in recent years. whatsoever for the terrorist attacks.
In this case, too, a very important and quite evident role is being played by the so-called “entrepreneurs
of fear”, who are often similar to the ones mentioned in connection with anti-Semitic feelings. In Italy, Finally, stereotypes and prejudices are worsened by the high visibility of Muslims, particularly in con-
the Lega Nord party was definitely a catalyst of fears, prejudices and stereotypes about different people nection with the visual clues (clothing, veil and the like) that sometimes characterize the Muslims living
in general, but specifically about Muslims. Over time, this party has organized many striking, openly in Italy. It thus comes as no surprise that it is women who carry the larger share of the prejudice burden,
anti-Islamic initiatives, among which it is worth mentioning a demonstration held in 1999 in Turin, in since they make up the most noticeably “different” presence and they go to public areas (e.g. markets,
the area of Porta Palazzo, under the leadership of Senator Mario Borghezio; the demonstration climaxed schools, shops and so on) more often than men.
with a mass in Latin, which was held in order to ‘purify’ the place where the local Islamic community
had celebrated the end of the Ramadan. In 2000, some rank-and-file members of the Lega Nord party In this case, too, some polls have confirmed such perceptions. As reported by the EUMC (2006a), in
staged a very serious provocation by desecrating with pig urine a plot set aside for building a mosque. All 2005 the UCEI commissioned a survey of intolerance among young Italians; the survey showed that over
of these events took place before 11 September 2001, thereby demonstrating that a worrying anti-Islamic 50% of the respondents think that Muslims “have cruel and barbaric laws” and “support international
attitude existed even before a strong fear-catalysing event such as the terrorist attack to the Twin Towers terrorism”.
of New York took place.

These displays haven’t always been censured at the political and social level; on the contrary, the fear of
an Islamic invasion is shared by the Lega Nord party and by some representatives of the Catholic church
hierarchy. As noted by Massari (2006, page 92), following Pope John Paul II drive to support a climate of
tolerance and inter-religious dialogue, the hierarchy sometimes expressed their dissent by evoking Islam
as an enemy of Christianity (as did Cardinal Biffi of Bologna in 2000). In 2005, the Italian Episcopal
Conference (CEI, Conferenza Episcopale Italiana) issued some guidelines concerning the marriages be-
tween Catholics and Muslims, whereby “these marriages ought to be discouraged or anyway not to be

As already pointed out, some areas of the national intelligentsia have also aligned with the stance of those
who worry about the presence of Islamic people in Italy.

In this case, too, the media seem to play the role of a dangerous resonant cavity, although of a pre-exist-
ing political and social climate. The fact that this climate existed beforehand obviously does by no means
relieve the media of their serious responsibilities, as they intentionally broadcast trivialities about Islam
and look unable to produce the kind of higher-quality materials which would be useful for a better un-
derstanding of these trends. Once again, no systematic research and monitoring activities of media lan-
guage exist in this field; some studies did however highlight that stereotyped images often prevail; these
are mainly based on the political reality of Islam and on simplified views which tend to mix the term
“Muslims” up with Islamic fundamentalism and with terrorism (Marletti, 1995). Little attention is also

78 79

As already pointed out, Jews and Muslims agree on several issues concerning discriminations and prejudices. For both com- Most affected groups
munities, in the past decade the onset of a new racist and xenophobic climate has mainly been associated to some worldwide
2007 2008 2009 Totale
events, such as the international terrorism and the Arab-Israeli conflict escalation. These gave rise, though on opposite sides, to
very similar reactions in the public arena and by some players on the social and political stage; these reactions were characterized Immigrants and refugees in general 63 87 53 203
by a prevalence of stereotypes and poorly structured readings, as well as of low public opinion reaction levels (across the political Roma 33 30 20 83
spectrum) to displays disguising strictly racist actions by means of politics. Both communities have had to face a worrying climate Jews 9 3 1 13
of xenophobia and indifference to discriminations.. Muslims 14 4 2 20
On this front, worrying data have been produced for instance by a piece of research carried out by the Department of Social Sci- Source: Lunaria, based on news reported by the press
ences of the University of Turin, which detected many similarities between anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish prejudices..
As pointed out in the Blue Book, further to this “a negative portrayal of immigration exists and is being proposed by the media
As pointed out by a recent Blue Book on racism in Italy, which was published by Lunaria in 2009, in the last months of 2008 and as well as in public discussions, thereby fostering a climate of fear and laying the foundations needed for xenophobia to spread
in the first months of 2009 a very worrying surge of violent and racist displays has been recorded. within our society” (Lunaria, 2009, p. 37).
“A kind of hatred for those who are “different”, “others”, is growing and developing across the board. The daily recurrence of these behav-
iours is disarming but scary; we need to ask ourselves pressing questions about this process of normalization of discrimination and racist,
violent actions” (Lunaria, 2009, p. 37). The Blue Book collects and analyses the cases of racism reported by the national and local
press; the emerging general framework is worrying for the Jewish and Muslim communities, too.

Monitored cases of racism in the press (1 January 2007 – 15 April 2009)

2007 2008 2009 Totale Interviewed Privileged Witnesses
Total number of racist violence cases 119 124 76 319
a) Verbal abuse 59 45 28 132
a1) Threats, harassment and racist talk 37 35 23 95 For the Jewish community
- by central and local Government officials, party and
17 19 14 50
organization representatives
- by non-institutional subjects 14 13 9 36 Claudia DE BENEDETTI - UCEI Deputy Chairman, youth councillor, and elected member of the Euro-
- by sport fans 6 3 0 9 pean Jewish Congress
a2) Graffiti, publications and racist propaganda 17 8 5 30
Guido FUBINI - Long-time member of the Jewish community of Turin, as well as Chairman of the Justice
- generic anti-immigrant graffiti 7 6 3 16
- anti-Jewish graffiti 6 1 1 8
and Freedom movement of Turin
- anti-Muslim graffiti 4 1 1 6 Tullio LEVI - Chairman of the Jewish community of Turin
a3) Racist public displays 5 2 9 16 Franco SEGRE - Member of the Jewish community of Turin and of the Jewish Study group of Turin
b) Physical attacks 60 79 48 187 Alice SILVA - GET coordinator in Turin
b1) Attacks on individuals 39 61 36 136 Claudio VERCELLI - Lecturer at the Salvemini Study Centre (Centro Studi Salvemini)
- by the police and other institutions 1 13 3 17
- by non-institutional subjects 36 45 33 114
For the Muslim community
- by far-right groups 2 3 0 5
b2) Deaths due to attacks, abuse and blows 2 9 4 15
Sarah AMZIL - Long-time member of the Young Muslims of Turin
Nour Eddine BAHI - Person in charge of the inter-religious dialogue at the Union of the Islamic Communi-
b3) Property crime and material damage 19 9 4 26
ties and Organizations in Italy (UCOII, Unione delle Comunità e Organizzazioni Islamiche in Italia), and
Source: Lunaria, based on news reported by the press
member of the National steering committee
Luigi BERZANO - Professor at the Social Studies Department of the University of Turin
Abdeslam JAHOURI - Immigrant office of the CGIL (leftmost) trade unions in Turin
Abdelaziz KHOUNATI - Member of the Islamic Institute of Italy and of the Mosque of Peace of Turin, as
well as the Chairman of the Union of Italian Muslims (UMI, Unione Musulmani in Italia)

80 81

References - Negri, Augusto Tino and Scaranari Introvigne, S. (2005), I musulmani in Piemonte: in moschea, al la-
voro, nel contesto sociale (Muslims in Piedmont: at the mosque, at work and in the social context), Guerini
- Allievi, Stefano (2003), Islam italiano. Viaggio nella seconda religione del paese (Islam in Italy: a journey e Associati, Milan
through the country’s second religion), Einaudi, Turin - Pace, E. (2004a), L’Islam in Europa: modelli di integrazione (Islam in Europe: integration models). Ca-
- Belluati M. (2007), L’Islam locale. Domanda di rappresentanza e problemi di rappresentazione (Local rocci, Rome
Islam: representation demand and representation issues), Franco Angeli, Milan - Pace, E. (2004b): Sociologia dell’ islam: fenomeni religiosi e logiche sociali (The sociology of Islam: religious
- Berzano, L. (1994), Religiosità del nuovo areopago: credenze e forme religiose nell’epoca postsecolare (Reli- phenomena and social patterns), Carocci, Rome
giousness in the new Areopagus: beliefs and religious forms in the post-secular age), Franco Angeli, Milan - Paci, Francesca (2004), L’Islam sotto casa. L’ integrazione silenziosa (Islam in your backyard: the silent
- Berzano, L. (ed.) (1997), Forme del pluralismo religioso: rassegna di gruppi e movimenti a Torino (Forms integration), Marsilio, Venice
of religious pluralism: a review of groups and movements in Turin), Il segnalibro, Turin - Paci, Francesca (2006), Islam e violenza. Parlano i musulmani italiani (Islam and violence: Italian Mus-
- Cesari J., A. Pacini, Giovani musulmani in Europe. Tipologie dell’appartenenza religiosa e dinamiche socio lims speak out), Laterza, Bari
- culturali (Young Muslims in Europe: religious appurtenance types and sociocultural dynamics), Centro - Sabahi S., Farian (2006), L’ identità inquieta dell’Europe. Viaggio tra i musulmani d’occidente. (Europe’s
di studi religiosi comparati Edoardo Agnelli (Edoardo Agnelli Centre for Comparative Religious Studies), restless identity: a journey among Western Muslims) , Il Saggiatore, Milan
Turin - Saint-Blancat (ed.) (1999), L’Islam in Italia: una presenza plurale, (Islam in Italy: a plural presence), Ed-
- Della Pergola S. (1975), The Italian Jewish population Study: Demographic Characteristics and Trends, in izioni Lavoro, Rome
U.O. Schmelz. P. Glikson, S.J. Gould (eds) Studies in Jewish Demography: Survey for 1969 - 1971, pages - Stephen Roth Institute (2007), Rapporto sull’Italia (Report on Italy),
60 - 97, Jerusalem - London asw2007/italy.html
- EUMC 2004a, Perceptions of Anti-Semitism in the European Union. Voices from Members of the Euro- - Zanzucchi, Michele (2006), L’ Islam che non fa paura. (Islam that does not frighten), San Paolo Edizioni,
pean Jewish communities, Vienna Milan
- EUMC 2004b, Manifestations of Anti-Semitism in the EU 2002 - 2003. Based on information by the
National Focal Points of the RAXEN Information Network, Vienna
- EUMC 2006a, Muslims in the European Union. Discrimination and Islamophobia
- EUMC 2006b, Perceptions of Discrimination and Islamophobia. Voices from members of Muslim com- Websites
munities in the European Union - - Islamic religious community Website
- FRA 2009, Anti-Semitism - Summary overview of the situation in the European Union 2001 -2008, - - Peirone Centre of Turin
February 2009 - - Information portal on Islam in Italy
- Guolo, Renzo (2003), Xenofobi e xenofili. Gli italiani e l’Islam (Xenophobes and Xenophiles: Italians and
Islam), Laterza, Bari
- Guolo, Renzo in Saint-Blancat (ed.) (1999), L’ islam in Italia: una presenza plurale (Islam in Italy: a
plural presence), Edizioni Lavoro, Rome
- Lano, A. (2005), Islam d’Italia: inchiesta su una realtà in crescita (Islam in Italy: a report on an growing),
Edizioni Paoline
- Massari M. (2006), Islamofobia. La paura e l’Islam (Islamophobia: fear and Islam), GLF Editori Laterza,
- Marletti, Carlo (ed.) (1995), Televisione e islam: immagini e stereotipi dell’ islam nella comunicazione ital-
iana (Television and Islam: images and stereotypes of Islam in the Italian media), RAI-Nuova Eri, Turin

82 83



The European juridical framework 1997 was declared the European Year against Racism, and in March 1998 the European Commission
presented an action plan against racism aimed at consolidating the results achieved in 1997 and at laying
the ground for the coming into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam. Once in force (from 1 May 1999), the
In order to identify a common ground on which the project activities could be based, it was considered Treaty introduced into the Treaty establishing the European Community a new Section, namely No. 13,
useful in the first place to make reference to a brief, definitely non-exhaustive overview of the main initia- which allows combating discriminations based on sex, race, ethnic origin, religion, personal opinions, dis-
tives that have been developed in Europe in the past decade in order to combat racism and xenophobia, abilities, age or gender preferences. Based on that Section, in June 2000 the Council adopted an impor-
thereby starting from the situation existing before the Treaty of Amsterdam came into force (1 May 1999) tant Directive implementing the principle of equality of treatment regardless of race and ethnic origin. In
up to the latest novelties introduced (in December 2009) by the subsequent Treaty of Lisbon. parallel to the implementation of Section 13, the European Union carried on with its efforts to integrate
The Council of Europe was established in the aftermath of World War II (1949); in the following year, the fight against racism and xenophobia into all of its policies, as well as in such areas as employment,
the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) was education, training, youth and the European structural funds. The Treaty of Amsterdam also intro-
adopted and, based on it, the European Court of Human Rights was established, in order to protect the duced Section 29 of the European Union Treaty, providing the juridical basis for the fight against racism
rights and freedoms foreseen by the Convention. As far as discrimination is concerned, the Convention and xenophobia within the field of police and judiciary cooperation on criminal matters. The European
contains a specific Section, namely No. 14, which states that “The enjoyment of the rights and freedoms Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) also played a relevant role. The EUMC was
granted by this Convention must be guaranteed with no discriminations, with particular reference to established in Vienna in June 1997, with the main mission to study the racist and xenophobic phenomena
those based on gender, race, colour, language, religion, political or other opinions, national or social, ap- showing up within the Union, to analyse their root causes and to draft proposals to be submitted to Com-
purtenance to national minorities, wealth, birth or any other condition”. Despite the basic relevance of munity institutions and to the Member States. The EUMC was also assigned the task of setting up and
this clause within the protection system provided by the ECHR, and despite the impact it has had on coordinating the European Information Network on Racism and Xenophobia (RAXEN, Racism And
the way the Strasbourg-based bodies construed the other rights granted in it, the material scope within Xenophobia European Network). Once again in 1997, the European Parliament adopted the Resolution
which the insuperable literal reading of Section 14 constrains its operational outreach is no doubt a con- on Racism, Xenophobia and Anti-Semitism, as well as on the results of European Year against Racism
siderable limitation of the ECHR as a basic human right protection tool. At the first Summit of Heads which also required the Commission to present, based on such an assessment by the Parliament and the
of State and Government of the Council of Europe held in Vienna in 1993, worries were expressed about Council, an action plan under Title VI of the EU Treaty; the plan had to contain appropriate provisions,
the resurgence of racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic phenomena, and a European campaign against so that in all European Union Member States such behaviours as the incitement to racial hatred and
racism was launched; the campaign was aimed at the youth (with the slogan “All different, all equal”). xenophobia, as well as comparable actions, the denial of the Holocaust and of comparable crimes against
On the same occasion, the decision was taken to establish a Commission staffed by independent experts humanity, the preparation, printing and circulation of materials with racist, xenophobic and revisionist
appointed on the basis of their expertise and moral authority (ECRI, European Commission against Rac- contents, the co-operation with groups carrying out racist and xenophobic activities or circulating racist,
ism and Intolerance), whose tasks would include the monitoring of such phenomena, the reinforcement xenophobic and revisionist teachings could be classified and effectively prosecuted as criminal violations.
of the fight against racism at the local, national and European level, and the issuing of recommendations The prohibition of any kind of discrimination was taken up and re-asserted in the Charter of Fundamen-
on this topic. tal Rights of the European Union, which was signed in Nice on 7 December 2000. In the same year, two
major Community Directives were issued, which were bound to have a significant impact on the juridical
framework of the individual Member States, namely Directive 2000/43/EC implementing the principle
The relevance of the work carried out by the ECRI was later reasserted at the second Summit, which was held in Strasbourg
in 1997. Two of the various activities carried out by this body are particularly important, namely monitoring the situation in
of equal treatment between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin and Directive 2000/78/EC es-
various countries and assessing both racism and intolerance phenomena and the measures adopted to oppose them. These tablishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and occupation. Four years later, the
activities are carried out through a dialogue with government authorities and non-government bodies, too. This cross- Green Paper on Equality and non-Discrimination provided a first assessment of the progress achieved.
examination mechanism also includes the discussion of a confidential report with the various governments; if the involved
governments do not object to it (which they never did so far), the report is then published. The ECRI also issues reports on
Two further Directives are worth mentioning here, although they specifically deal with education and
racial discrimination problems in the various countries. The first such report on Italy was published in 1998; the second one employment, namely Directive 2002/73/EC of 23 September 2002 amending Council Directive 76/207/
was made public on 23 April 2002 and the latest one in 2006. The ECRI has relations with non-government organizations and EEC on the implementation of the principle of equal treatment for men and women as regards access to
with bodies which are active in such field, and it arranges thematic meetings from time to time. Among the ECRI further tasks
a few activities stand out, namely the gathering and circulation of information about effective initiatives and practices as well
employment, vocational training and promotion, and working conditions, and Directive 2004/113/EC
as the drafting of recommendations to the various governments; as far as the topics of this research are concerned, it is worth of 13 December 2004 implementing the principle of equal treatment between men and women in the
recalling Recommendations No. 5, on combating intolerance and discrimination against Muslims2, and No. 6, on combating access to and supply of goods and services, which require the Member States to extend that protection to
the circulation of racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic material via the Internet.
the employment and professional areas. In 2007, which had been declared the European Year of Equal
Opportunities for All, the Justice and Home Affairs (JHA) Council approved the Regulation establishing
the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights and also abrogating Regulation 1035/97 establish-

 See Dick Houtzager’s summary for the Academy of European Law (ERA, European Right Academy)
 See sources/5_1095_9031_file_en.13512.ppt#7

86 87
ing the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia; the EUMC was fully replaced by the Year Initiative Notes
still current Agency, which has been operating in Vienna since 1 March 2007. The Council also assigned The adoption of Protocol 12, which was made open for signature in Rome on 4
the European Commission the task to negotiate with the Council of Europe a cooperation agreement 1950
Adoption of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and
Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR)
November 2000, provided for a general prohibition of discrimination, thereby
laying the foundations for the future enlargement of the protection against
with the European Agency. In 2008, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA, Fun- discriminations.

damental Rights Agency) published an interesting Cultural Diversity Guide, while in 2009 it launched The Charter was adopted at the European Council meeting of Turin on 18
October 1961, and it came into force on 26 February 1965. The 1961 Social
Charter contents were later taken up and complemented with other rights
the European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey (EU-MIDIS) campaign, which published in 1961 Adoption of the European Social Charter1 (among them those introduced by an Additional Protocol of 5 May 1988, which
came into force on 4 September 1992) in a revised version of the Charter, which
May its second Dossier, specifically dedicated to the discriminations against Muslims. was adopted and made open for signature on 3 May 1996, and came into force
on 1 September 1999.

As far as information is concerned, it is worth mentioning here the campaign titled Media4Diversity 1993 Establishment of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance

- Taking the pulse of diversity in the media. At the end of 2008, the Council of the European Union Declaration of the European Year against Racism

Establishment of the European Union Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia Subsequently replaced by the European Union Agency for Fundamental
adopted the Council Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA of 28 November 2008, on combating some 1997 (EUMC) Rights (FRA. Fundamental Rights Agency)

forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law, thereby inviting each Member Adoption of the Resolution on Racism, Xenophobia and Anti-Semitism, as well as on the
European Year against Racism2 of 1997
State to take the measures needed to make some racist and xenophobic behaviours subject to indictment Coming into force of the Treaty of Amsterdam (1 May 1999) Art. 13, as amended by Treaty of Nice
by providing for effective, commensurate and deterrent criminal punishments; for the worst offences men- 1999 Publication of the Commission Report on the implementation of the European Year
tioned in Section 1, these punishments may include a minimum imprisonment of one to three years. Against Racism – 1997, COM/1999/2683

Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union4 2000/C 364/01 Nice, 7 December 2000

The behaviours in point include: 2000

Directive 2000/43/EC implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons
irrespective of racial or ethnic origin

Directive 2000/78/EC establishing a general framework for equal treatment in

a) the public incitement to violence and hatred against groups of people or their individual members, employment and occupation

based on race, colour, religion, ancestry and national or ethnic origin; 2001 First World Conference against Racism

2004 Publication of the Green Paper on Equality and non-Discrimination5

b) the public circulation and distribution of texts, images or other materials of racist or xenophobic na- Publication of the European Parliament Resolution of January 2005 on the Holocaust,
ture; anti-Semitism and racism6

Publication of the European Parliament Resolution of 15 June 2006 on the increase of

2006 racist and homophobic violence in Europe7
c) the apology, the denial or the gross downplaying of genocide crimes, of crimes against humanity and of Issuing of European Council Regulation No. 168/2007 of 15 February 2007, establishing the
war crimes, as defined by Sections 6 and 7 of the Statute of the International Criminal Court, when these 2007 European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA. Fundamental Rights Agency)8.

behaviours are adopted in order to incite to violence or hatred against groups of people or their individual Declaration of the European Year of Equal Opportunities for All

Issuing of Council Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA of 28 November 2008, on combating

members; 2008 some forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law 9

Publication of the European Parliament Resolution of 14 January 2009 on the Situation of

d) the apology, the denial or the gross downplaying of the crimes defined in Section 6 of the Statute of the Fundamental Rights in the European Union 2004 - 200810

International Military Tribunal, as enclosed to the London Agreement of 8 August 1945. 2009
Second World Conference against Racism11

The Treaty reinforces the coordination and the cooperation between the
police and the judiciary in combating some forms of racism and xenophobia;
Treaty of Lisbon
A significant aggravating circumstance is foreseen in case racist or xenophobic motivations are identified the European Police Office (Europol) is authorized to investigate; the possibility
is foreseen to establish a European Public Prosecutor’s Office.
for criminal violations other than foreseen in Sections 1 and 2 of the Framework Decision; a couple of
Sections of the same Decision (namely Nos. 4 and 8) also prescribe that no reporting or accusation by the
victims of racist or xenophobic behaviours is needed to start criminal investigations or proceedings. The 1 and
final deadline for the implementation of the above Framework Decision has been set on 28 November 2
2010; the implementation does not require the Member States to adopt measures conflicting with the 3
4 See
basic principles supporting the freedoms of association and of expression. The following summary chart 5!celexplus!prod!DocNumber&lg=it&type_doc=COMfinal&an_doc=2004&nu_
shows the main initiatives undertaken by the European institutions concerning the above topics. doc=379
8 See
10 -

 See 11


88 89

Antisemitism, islamofobia and other forms of discrimination

in Bulgaria

Editor: the Center for Comparative Studies

Introduction......................................................................................................................................... 92
General overview of the relevant law provisions in Bulgaria.................................................................. 96
Constitutional law.............................................................................................................................. 101
Specific legislation.............................................................................................................................. 104
Legal guarantees for the rights of persons, belonging to minorities in the penal code......................... 109
Civil and administrative law................................................................................................................110
Some conclusions............................................................................................................................... 124

 Assoc. prof. Irena Ilieva PhD, nov. 2009.


General overview and Farming is the self-identification of the individuals involved. Pursuant to Art. 5, Para. 3 the data
about the belonging to an ethnic group, a religious denomination and command of mother tongue were
to be collected voluntarily from the individuals interviewed in the census. The Law on Statistics does not
put under obligation the natural persons to give to the statistics bodies data about their race, nationality,
ethnic origin, religion (religious denomination), health condition, private life, political affiliation, com-
Bulgaria is not absolutely homogenous in terms of its population. The geographic situation and the long mitted legal offences, philosophical and political opinions (Art. 21, Para. 2).
and turbulent history of the country created the present Bulgarian population, which is diverse in ethnic
origin, religious denomination and command of mother tongues. The matter of the rights of the indi- Ethnic groups Total Men Women

viduals, belonging to the minorities is one of the most complex and controversial in International public Bulgarians 6 655 210 3 227 606 3 427 604
Turks 746 664 374 805 371 859
law, as well in the domestic legislation. This complexity arises from the different ways of constitution of
Roma (Gypsies) 370 908 186 344 184 564
the national states in the world, from the different political concept on citizenship and nationality, and
Armenians 10 832 5 249 5 583
last but not least from the lack of unified and universally accepted terminology on ‘nation’, ‘nationality’, Jews 1 363 689 674
‘ethnicity’ and ‘minority’. The great differences between the concepts the word denotes evolve from the Vlachs 10 566 5 278 5 288
understanding of ‘emigration’ and ‘immigration’ nations, commuting between the ‘old’ (Europe) and Karakachans 4 107 2 128 1 979
the ‘new’ world (America). In fact, ‘pure’ or absolutely homogenous nations do not exist. In every country Russians 15 595 3 059 12 536
there live individuals or groups of individuals with different ethnic, national, linguistic, racial or religious Tartars 1 805 927 876
characteristics. They differ from the majority of the national population of the country. In the same Circassians 367 194 173

time these people or groups of people bring in diversity and contribute to the enrichment of the national Gagauz 540 247 293

character of the majority of the population. The aim of the study is to present the actual legal regula- Albanians 278 177 101

tion of the protection of the rights of the individuals, belonging to the Muslim and Jewish communities Arabs 2 328 1 860 468
Americans 293 165 128
in the country rather than study the historical development and constitution of this minorities groups
Serbs 422 254 168
in Bulgaria. Nevertheless, some historical reminiscences will be quoted in order to clarify some of the
Bosnians 23 15 8
present rights of the individuals who belong to the minorities. According the last Report on Racism and Africans 78 65 13
Xenophobia in the Member States of the EU “ In Bulgaria there is not reliable system for data collection Vietnamese 635 464 171
on ethnic and religious minorities and on concrete manifestation of discrimination”. This statement is Greeks 3 408 1 952 1 456
only partially correct. The main problem is the lack of universal national court information system, which Kurds 147 113 34
makes difficult the collection of the complaints and the court cases. The present study is the first part of Macedonians 5 071 3 125 1 946
the juridical research on the relevant legal regulation in Bulgaria and will be completed by analysis of the Germans 436 176 260

case-law to the end of the project. Poles 825 209 616

Rumanians 1 088 503 585
Slovaks 161 38 123
Statistical data Slovenians 28 9 19
Ukrainians 2 489 474 2 015
In the period between the 1900 to now in Bulgaria there were 12 official censuses of the population.
Hungarians 169 58 111
According to the data from the last census of 2001 the citizens of Bulgarian nationality are in absolute
French 195 125 70
numbers 6,655,210 of the total 7,928,901 nationals. The second ethnic (national) group are the Turks Czechs 316 91 225
with 746,664 people, followed by the Roma (Gypsies) with 370,908 people. Actually the percentage of Others 5 641 3 178 2 463
the Turks is relatively constant representing 9.4 % of the country’s citizens. Not self-identified 62 108 31 354 30 754
The smaller ethnic groups in Bulgaria are: Armenian (10,832); Jews (1,363); Wallachians or Vlachs Not indicated 24 807 11 534 13 273
(10,566); Karakachans (4,107); Russians (15,595); Tartars (803), Circassians or Cherkess (367); Gagauz Total 7 928 901 3 862 465 4 066 436
(540), Albanians (278) etc.
The last census of the population in 2001 shows the present situation of the ethnic groups in Bulgaria. The Pic. 1 - Population by ethnic groups in Bulgaria. Data of the last census in 2001

main principle of the census laid down in the Law on the Census of the Population, the Housing Fund

 State Gazette, No. 16 of 25 February 2000.

 FRA 2007 Report on Racism and Xenophobia in the Member States of the EU, TK-AK-07-002-EN-C, p.49  State Gazette, No. 57 of 25 June 1999, last amend. No. 88 of 4 November 2005.

92 93
The existing ethnic groups can be classified in two categories on the grounds of their historical arrival on 100%
90% Bulgarians
the territory of the state. The first category includes the so called ‘historical minorities’. They are an inte-
gral part of the Bulgarian population on the basis of the historical destiny of the country. The following Turks
are listed here: Turks, Roma, Armenians, Jews, Wallachians or Vlachs, Karakachans, Russians, Tartars, 60% Roma (gypsies)
Circassians or Cherkess, Gagauz, Albanians, Serbs, Bosnians, Greeks, Romanians, Slovaks, Slovenes, 40%
Not indicated
Ukrainians and the Macedonians who require additional clarification. The second category presents the 30% Not self indicated
so called ‘new minorities’, such as Africans, Vietnamese, Kurds, Germans, Poles, Hungarians, French etc. Jews
Their presence in Bulgaria is the result of migration, mixed marriages or other reasons. 0% Armenians







10 000 000
1 000 000
100 000
10 000 Pic. 3 - Religious and ethnic minorities in Bulgaria
100 The picture of the religious minorities presents the same complexity. The ethnicity differs from the reli-
10 gious confessions of beliefs. The pure cases as: Bulgarian nationally and Orthodoxy, or Turkish national-
ity with Muslim confession are diversified. The Muslim religion is the second largest religion in Bulgaria.
There are Bulgarian Roman-Catholics, Bulgarian Muslims, Bulgarian Jews, as well Orthodox Roma,





Roma (gipsy)






Not indicated
Not self indicated
Protestant Roma, Muslim Roma. The only absolutely homogenous religious group is the Armenian mi-
nority, where all Armenians are Armeno-Gregorians.
The Bulgarian Orthodox Church, the Muslim and Jewish communities receive governmental subsidies.
The brief statistical review of the minorities in Bulgaria reaffirms the initial thesis on the complexity and
sensitivity of the investigated matter. There is a differentiation on the grounds of national and ethnic
Pic. 2 - Linguistic minorities in Bulgaria
origin, language and religion. In addition we can add also cultural differences, historical traditions, etc.
This complex picture needs to be legally regulated in order to meet the needs of the democratic society,
The chart of the linguistic minorities in Bulgaria focuses the attention on the specific features of the eth-
the rule of the law, human rights, international obligations and the domestic social relationships.
nic groups in the country. The complexity of the minorities picture reflects historically grounded realities.
For example, the group of Pomaks who are Muslims, speaking Bulgarian language. They are the descend-
ants of the Slavic Bulgarians who converted to Islam centuries ago during the Turkish domination. The
Gagauz are Turkic speaking, who are Orthodox Christians. A problem rises also with the definition of the Preliminary terminological remarks
Macedonian language and whether the Macedonians are a linguistic minority. The official Bulgarian po-
An important characteristics of the Bulgarian regulation of the matter of equality, non-discrimination and
sition is well-known: the Macedonian language does not exist, it is a dialect of the Bulgarian language.
minorities’ relationships are the primacy of the obligations under the International Public Law. According
to Art. 5, Para. 4 of the Bulgarian Constitution, the international treaties ratified in accordance with the
Constitution, promulgated and entered into force for Bulgaria, become an inherent part of the Bulgarian
domestic legislation. They prevail over the contradicting dispositions of the internal (domestic) legislation.
In addition Bulgaria as member-state of the European Union is subject of the European Communities
Law which is characterized by direct effect and primacy. This characteristic explains the lack of some legal
definitions in the domestic legislation and the use of the terms generally accepted in international public
 Some comments need to be made, in order to be precise in the use of the statistical methods and data on the minorities in Bulgaria.
The first is on the existence of a ‘Macedonian’ minority in the country. The official Bulgarian position is that Macedonia is a geographical law. This is the case with the notion of “non-discrimination”, “racial discrimination”, “xenophobia”, etc..
region, populated by Bulgarians, which region is now divided between Bulgaria, Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The Bulgarian system for the protection of the minorities rights is based on two fundamental levels. The
Because of the fluctuating political qualifications of the region’s population, there are differences in the census. Till 1943 the Macedo- first is the general principle of equality before the law and non-discrimination for all Bulgarian citizens.
nians were not considered independent nationality. They have been included in the censuses as Bulgarians. The second comment is on the
differences between Romanians and Wallachians or Vlachs. From 1900 till 1975 they were included in the censuses as Rumanians. The This principle is on large scale established in the Bulgarian legislation. The second level of protection of
third comment is on the Cincares (Aromuns, Aromanians or Kutsovlachs). Between 1905 and 1934 they were included in the censuses individuals, belonging to minorities groups consists of legal guarantees, establishing specific rights in all
as Roma. After 1934 the Bulgarian Muslims (Pomaks) are listed as Bulgarians. From 1934 to 1965 the Tartars, Romanians, Slovaks and spheres of human rights.
Serbs were not examined as independent ethnic groups.

94 95

General overview of the relevant law provisions in Bulgaria C. Obligations under the domestic legislation
The following list of the relevant domestic acts is based on the supremacy of the Bulgarian Constitution.
Thus, the relevant law provisions can be classified in the following tree big categories: The list of the acts is made on my personal doctrinal appreciation on the importance of the laws for the
minorities in the country.

A. Obligations under the International Public Law • The Constitution of 1991

General international obligations • Political Parties Act – 2005
• The Charter of the United Nations - Art. 1, Para. 3, Art. 55, Art. 56. • Law on the Bulgarian Citizenship - 1998
• The Universal Declaration of Human Rights – 1948 • Law on the Foreigners in Bulgaria - 1998
• Law on Protection from Discrimination – 2003 (name amended in 2006)
Specific international obligations on the minorities • Law on the Religions - 2002
• Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) – 1966: ‘In those • National Educational Act - 1991
States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities • Higher Education Act – 1995
shall not be denied the right, in community with other members of their group, to enjoy their own • Law on Radio and Television - 1998
culture, to profess and practice their own religion, or to use their own language.’ • Law on the Educational Degree, the Educational Minimum and the Learning Plan – 1999
• UN Declaration on the Rights of Individuals, belonging to national, ethnic, religious and linguistic • Law on the Protection and Development of Culture, 1999
minorities - 1992 • Law on the Civil Registration – 1999
• Framework Convention for the Protection of the National Minorities - 1995, into force 1998 • Law on the Bulgarians Living Outside the Boundaries of Republic of Bulgaria – 2000
• Penal Code – 1968
Other relevant international obligations • Law on the Normative Acts – 1973
• Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide – 1948 • Law on the Judiciary - 2007
• International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights - 1966 • Civil Procedure Code – 2007, in force from 1 March 2008
• International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination - 1966 • Code on Criminal Procedure - 2005
• Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women - 1979 • Code on Administrative Procedures – 2006
• International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid - 1973 • Law on the Civil Servant – 1999
• Convention of the Rights of the Child - 1985 • Law on Defense and the Armed Forces – 2009
• Law on the Legal Non-Profit Bodies – 2000
• Law on the Protection of the Child – 2000
• Law on the Social Support – 1998
B. Obligations under European Union Law • Labor Code - 1986
Obligations under the european standard on human rights • Commercial Law – 1991
• European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms - 1950 • Regulations for the Organisation and Activity of the Constitutional Court, 1991
• Protocol No. 12 to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms • Rules of the Arbitration Court of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 1993
- 2000 • Rules and regulations for the implementation of the National Education Act, 1999
• Framework convention for the Protection of National Minorities - 1995, into force 1998 • Decree for the general educational minimum and the distribution of the school hours, 1999.
• Directive 2000/43/CE implementing the principle of equal treatment between persons irrespective
of racial or ethnic origin The Bulgarian system for the protection of the minorities rights is based on two fundamental levels. The
• Directive 2000/78/CE establishing a general framework for equal treatment in employment and first is the general principle of equality before the law and non-discrimination for all Bulgarian citizens.
occupation This principle is on large scale established in the Bulgarian legislation. The second level of protection of

 There are other relevant acts such as: Decree No. 86 of 12 March 1997 on the certification of the state register of specialties according
to the educational-qualification degrees, 1997; Regulations on the recognition of education received abroad, 2000; Law on the Protection
of Consumers and on the Trade Rules, 1999; Law on the Foods, 1999; Ordinance on the Requirements for the Labelling of Non-Food
Products, 1999; Ordinance on the Labelling and Marketing of Wines, Alcoholic Drinks and Products of Grapes and Wine, 2000; Law
 See more detailed analysis of Art. 27 ICCPR in Ilieva, Irena. Minorities on the Balkan. The International Protection, Open Society on Community Centres, 1996; National Framework Treaty between the National Health Insurance Fund and the Bulgarian Physicians’
Foundation, S., 1994, p. 41 – 52. Union and the Bulgarian Union of Dentists, 2000, etc.

96 97
individuals, belonging to minorities groups consists of legal guarantees, establishing specific rights in all Crucial principle for the understanding of the Bulgarian concept is that the individuals, belonging to the
spheres of human rights. minorities are Bulgarian citizens. This concept of nationality with the meaning of citizenship makes the
Thus, the individuals, belonging to the minorities enjoy fully all rights and freedoms as Bulgarian citi- exclusion from the term minority of foreigners (foreign citizens), immigrants/migrants, migrant workers-
zens, and in addition they have a wide list of specific rights in order to preserve and develop their identity. foreign citizens, asylum seekers and stateless individuals. Indeed this understanding is more limited in
On this criterion, the domestic legislation can be divided into two groups: provisions on the equality and comparison to other doctrinal concepts in Europe. In my opinion it gives a clear difference between the
non-discrimination, and special rights, protective measures and norms of the type of ‘positive’ discrimina- traditional and the new minorities in the country and between their legal status. The term used by the
tion. In the first big group of legal provisions concerning minorities the following need to be cited: Art. Constitution is ‘citizens, whose mother tongue is not Bulgarian’. In this way the legislator embraces the
6, Para. 2 of the Constitution; Art. 8, Para. 3 of the Labor Code; Art. 4 of the Law on Protection against concept of linguistic minorities and gives predominance to the linguistic diversity. In addition the legisla-
Discrimination; Art. 10, Para. 2 of the Law on the Protection of the Child10; Art. 11, Para. 1 of the Code tion gives a legal definition of ‘mother tongue’. According to Art. 8, Para. 4 of Rules and Regulations for
on Criminal Procedures11; Art. 7 of the Law on the Civil Servant12; Art. 3 of the Law on the Social Sup- the Implementation of the National Education Act a mother tongue is the language in which the child
port13; Art. 2 of the Law on Encouraging the Employment14 and other15. communicates in his/her family17.

□ Enclosure 1 - Synoptic table - General Overview BG The second important characteristics of the Bulgarian definition on minority is the concept of individual
rights. This concept is consequently implemented in the domestic legislation, starting with the Constitu-
Glossary of the terms used in Bulgarian domestic legislation tion, the laws and regulations concerning the rights of the individuals, belonging to minorities groups.
The use of the notions of ‘ethnic’, ‘national’, or ‘religious’ community is in compliance with Art. 27
of ICCPR, establishing practicing in the community with the other members of the group of specific
’Minority’ as a legal term in Bulgaria rights18. The absence of legal definition in Bulgaria corresponds to the lack of universally accepted defini-
tion of ‘minority’. There is no legal term either in Art. 27 of the International Covenant on Political and
Bulgaria is no exception to the worldwide absence of a legal definition on ‘minority’. This absence affords Civil Rights, or in the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. The Law on
researchers the opportunity to define theoretically the notion starting from different doctrinal points of Protection against Discrimination introduces the terms from the Art. 27 of the International Covenant
views. The methodological basis of the subsequent analysis is on the legal terms, used in the Constitution on Political and Civil Rights: individuals, belonging to ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities.
and the laws, interpreted historically, systematically and in relation to the obligations under the Interna-
tional Public Law. The general principles of the definition are the following: The Bulgarian concept of minorities has the following characteristics: The individuals, belonging to the
minorities groups, have individual rights. They have the right of self – identification. The legislator em-
• Bulgaria is a unitary state. Article 2 of the Constitution stipulates that Bulgaria is an integral state braces the concept of linguistic minorities as well the concept of ethnic minorities. Theoretically ‘ethnic-
with local self-government. No autonomous territorial formations shall exist. ity’ is considered a broader notion than ‘nationality’.
• Bulgarian is the official language (Art. 3). This basic general provision is widely established and
further developed in a large part of the domestic (national) legislation.
• The domestic legislation provides the general principle of equality and non-discrimination. Article Positive discrimination
6, Para. 1 of the Constitution stipulates: ‘All persons are born free and equal in dignity and rights.’
“Positive discrimination” encompasses the adoption by the state of temporary special measures aimed at
Para. 2: ‘All citizens shall be equal before the law. There shall be no privileges or restrictions of rights
accelerating de facto equality between majority and minority. Those measures shall in no way entail as
on the grounds of race, nationality, ethnic self-identity, sex, origin, religion, education, opinion,
a consequence the maintenance of unequal or separate standards; these measures shall be discontinued
political affiliation, personal or social status, or property status.’16
when the objectives of equality of treatment have been achieved.

 Promulgated State Gazette, No. 26 from 1 April 1986, last amend. SG, No. 41 of 2 June 2009.
 Promulgated State Gazette, No. 86 of 30 September 2003, last amend., No. 74 of 15 September 2009.
10 Promulgated, State Gazette, No. 48 of 13 June 2000, last amend., No. 74 of 15 September 2009.
11 Promulgated, State Gazette, No. 86 of 28 October 2005, into force from 29 April 2006, last amend. Nr. 33 of 30 April 2009.
12 Promulgated, State Gazette, No. 67 of 27 July 1999, last amend., No. 74 of 15 September 2009
13 Promulgated, State Gazette, No. 56 of 19 May 1998, last amend., No. 74 of 15 September 2009.
17 Rules and regulations for the Implementation of the National Educational Act, State Gazette,No. 68 of 30 July 1999, last amend.
14 Promulgated, State Gazette, No. 112 of 2001, last amend. SG, No. 74 of 15 September 2009.
SG, No. 87 of 3 November 2009.
15 See more detailed analysis of the antidiscrimination provisions in Ilieva, Irena. Regulation of the principle of equality and non-
18 The only mention of ‘national minority’ is to be found in Art. 3 of the Regulation for the State Requirements for the Recognition of
discrimination, in Kamenova, Tsvetana, Drumeva, Emilia, Ilieva, Irena. European and National Antidiscrimination Legal Regulation,
High Education during Periods of Study at Foreign Universities: ‘For the the recognition of high education and periods of study at foreign
second revised edition, S., 2004, p. 137 – 176.
universities no discrimination is allowed based on age, sex, disability, language, religion, political or other opinions, national, ethnic or
16 The Constitution is promulgated in State Gazette No. 56 from 13 July 1991, amend. SG, No. 85 from 26 September 2003, amend.
social origin, association with a national minority, property, family or other status unrelated to the education, for which a recognition is
SG, No. 18 from 25 February 2005, last amend. SG, No. 12 of 6 February 2007.
sought’, promulgated in State Gazette, No., 69/2000.

98 99

International Conventions Entry in force

Instrument for ratification Constitutional law
of Bulgaria
Charter of the United Nations - 1945 1945 14.12.1955
Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of
Genocide - 1948
1951 Decree Nr. 300/23.06.1950 Political rights according to the domestic legislation
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial
Decree Nr. 515/23.06.1966, in The regulation of the political rights of the individuals, belonging to the minorities is based on the prin-
1969 force for Bulgaria from 4.01.1969, ciple of equality. They enjoy the same political rights as all Bulgarian citizens. The main provisions are
Discrimination - 1965
promulgated in SG, Nr. 56/10.07.1992
proclaimed in the Constitution of Bulgaria. Pursuant to Art. 11, Para. 1: ‘Politics in the Republic of
Decree Nr. 1199/23.07.1970, text
International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights - 1966 1976
promulgated in SG, Nr. 43/1976
Bulgaria shall be founded on the principle of political plurality. (2) No political party or ideology shall
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Decree Nr. 1199/23.07.1970, text
be proclaimed or affirmed as a party or ideology of the state. (3) All parties shall facilitate the formation
1976 and expression of the citizens’ political will. The procedure applying to the formation and dissolution of
- 1966 promulgated in SG, Nr. 43/1976
International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the political parties and the conditions pertaining to their activity is established by law.’ The restriction of the
1976 Ratified on 18.07.1974
Crime of Apartheid - 1973 right of creation of political parties is in accordance with the European standard in this field. Article 11,
Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading
Decree Nr. 3348/9.10.1986, in Para. 4 of the Constitution prohibits the political parties on ethnic, racial, or religious basis and of parties
1987 force for Bulgaria from 26.06.1987, which seek the violent usurpation of state power. The active and passive electoral rights are also based on
Treatment and Punishment -1984
promulgated in SG, Nr. 42/3.06.1988
the principle of equality. Pursuant to Art. 42, Para. 1 of the Constitution: ‘Every citizen above the age of
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Ratified on 8.12.1982, not
Women - 1979
promulgated 18, with the exception of those placed under judicial interdiction or serving a prison sentence, is free to
Ratified by Decision of the Great
elect state and local authorities and vote in referendums.’
National Assembly of 11.04.1991, in
Convention on the Rights of the Child -1989 1990
force for Bulgaria from 3.07.1991, In the category of the political right and freedoms are also the right of peaceful and unarmed assembly
promulgated in SG, Nr. 55/12.07.1991
for meetings and demonstrations (Art. 43 of the Constitution). Article 44, Para. 1 of the Constitution
International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All
2003 Not ratified establishes the freedom of association. The restriction of this freedom is set forth in Art. 44, Para. 2: ‘No
Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families - 1990
organization shall act to the detriment of the country’s sovereignty and national integrity, or the unity of
the nation, nor shall it incite racial, national, ethnic, or religious enmity or an encroachment on the rights
Instrument for ratification of
European instruments Entry in force
and freedoms of citizens; no organization shall establish clandestine or paramilitary structure or shall seek
to attain its aims through violence.’
Law of 31.07.1992, in force
for Bulgaria from 7.09.1992, The Law on the Political Parties currently into force does not specify the above-mentioned restrictions19.
European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and
Fundamental Freedoms - 1950
1953 promulgated in SG, Nr. 80/2.10.1992, Article 4 gives a general framework for the creation and the activities of the political parties in Bulgaria:
amended Nr. 137/1998, in force from ‘The organization and activity of the political parties is realized on the base of the Constitution, and the
laws, as well in accordance with their party statutes’.
Protocol No. 12 to the Convention for the Protection of Human
Rights and Fundamental Freedoms – 2000
2005 Not signed and ratified The following exigencies are explicitly formulated: the political parties may use democratic means and
European Convention on the Status of Migrant Workers - 1977 1983 Not signed and ratified
methods in achieving their political goals (Art. 2, Para. 3). The political parties cannot use in their sym-
European convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Law of 16.03.1994, SG Nr. 25/1994,
bols the national state emblem or the flag of Republic of Bulgaria, nor other religious signs, images or
1989 symbols (Art. 5). Their symbols shall not harm the universal values or be in contradiction to the good
Degrading Treatment and Punishment - 1987 text promulgated in SG, Nr. 71/1994
Framework convention for the Protection of National Minorities - morals (2). The political parties shall conduct their public events, shall compose their appeals and draft
1995 1998 Law of 18.02.1999, SG, Nr.18/1999 their documents in the Bulgarian language ( Art. 6).

Ratified on 7.04.2005, in force from The principal provisions concerning the right of association are stated in Art. 12 of the Constitution: ‘(1)
Convention on Cybercrime - 2001 2004
The associations of citizens shall serve to meet and safeguard their interests. (2) Citizens’ associations,
Additional Protocol to the Convention on Cybercrime, concerning
the criminalisation of acts of a racist and xenophobic nature 2006 Not signed and ratified
including the trade unions, shall not pursue any political objectives, nor shall they engage in any political
committed through computer systems - 2003 activity which is in the domain of the political parties.’
Directive 2000/43/CE implementing the principle of equal treatment Implemented trough the Law on The Law on Community Centres20 specifies this right for the communities. Pursuant to Art. 2, Para.
between persons irrespective of racial or ethnic origin Protection from Discrimination
Directive 2000/78/CE establishing a general framework for equal
treatment in employment and occupation
19 Promulgated, State Gazette, No. 28 of 1 April 2005, last amended, No. 6 of 23 January 2009.
Pic 4 - Chart of the relevant international instruments and status of the obligations of Bulgaria 20 Promulgated, State Gazette (SG), No.89 of 22 October 1996, last amend. SG, No. 15 of 15 September 2009.

100 101
1: ‘Community centres are traditional self-governing Bulgarian cultural-educational associations in the leads to termination of the membership; the membership is free; the acts of national chauvinism, revenge
communities, which also implement national cultural and educational policies. In their activities all seeking demonstrations, Islam fundamentalism and religious fanaticism are prohibited. The subjects of
physical persons can take part regardless of their age or sex, political and religious views and ethnic self- the rights and freedoms are ‘all Bulgarian citizens, including the minorities and the cultural-religious
consciousness.’ communities’. The Constitutional Court pointed out that the use of the term ‘minority’, not cited in the
Constitution, does not lead to the conclusion for contradiction to the Constitution. Among the political
objectives of MRF are the changes of the constitutional provisions in contradiction to the international
Implementation of the political rights agreements on the communities’ rights in Europe. The Constitutional Court determined that this formu-
The main problem in the matter of the implementation of the political rights in Bulgaria is related to lation does not contradict to the Constitution, under reservation on the constitutionality of the methods
the Movement for Rights and Freedoms as a political party, the majority of whose members belong to used. Starting as a party of the Bulgarian Turks, the MRF has substantially evolved in comparison with
the Turkish minority. The Movement was created at the constituent conference, held in Sofia on 26 – 27 the period of its creation. This is observed in the scope of its goals, objectives, programme’s ideas, political
March 1990. During the conference the Statute and Programme were adopted and governing bodies platform and electoral body. In the Central Council, as well in the electoral body, there are members who
were elected. The Movement was registered in the register for the political parties at the Sofia Municipal do not identifies themselves as belonging to some ethnic and religious community. The final decision of
Court with a Court Decision of 26 April 1990 (file case No. 2574/90). MRF is an active participant in the Constitutional Court rejected the claim and thus recognized and further legitimated the MRF.
the political life in Bulgaria in the period of democratic transition. In the elections for Grand National
Assembly in June 1990 16 deputies supported by MRF took seats in Parliament. In the elections for Na- □ Enclosure 1 - Synoptic table – Costitutional Law BG
tional Assembly in 1991 the Movement won 24 seats in 12 electoral regions. On 8 October 1991 a group
of 93 deputies brought a claim before the Constitutional Court of Bulgaria demanding decision on the
compliance of the MRF with the Constitution. The basic argument in the claim was the contradiction
with Art. 11, Para. 4 of the Constitution prohibiting parties on ethnic, racial, or religious basis. In its The right of name
Decision No. 4 of 21 April 1992 (constitutional case No. 1/1991)21 the Constitutional Court analyzes
Art. 11, as well a series of facts concerning the founders, members, conditions for membership, the scope In the category of the personal rights, the right of name is crucial for the individuals, belonging to the
and goals, the objectives and the political activities of MRF. Declaring the ethnic and religious charac- minorities in Bulgaria. The extensive legal regulation has resulted from the tragic events during the so-
ter of the movement’s basis, its founders respect the legislative conditions and observe the prohibition in called ‘revival process ‘of 1984 - 1985 – the coercive change of the names of the Turks and their replace-
Art. 53, Para. 4 of the acting former Constitution, prohibiting political organizations on religious basis. ment with Bulgarian names. Pursuant to Para. 1 of the Transitional and Final Provisions of the Law on
Among the political principles, goals and objectives in the Programme, there are primarily principles for the Civil Registration22 the Law on the Names of the Bulgarian Citizens of 1990 was revoqued (State
the protection of the human rights: the right of free choice of name; the right to study and use the mother Gazette, No. 20 of 1990). The main provisions are the following: the name of the Bulgarian citizen, born
tongue; the right to develop their own culture in accordance with the ethnic origin, etc. on the territory of the state, consists given, patronymic and family name. The tree parts of the name are
registered in the birth certificate (Art. 1). The given name of each person shall be chosen by his parents
In the Programme were established also statements, impermissible from the point of view of the former and shall be notified in writing to the official in charge of civil registration at the point of drafting the
and the present Constitution into force: for example p. 1.2.: ‘Achievement of national consolidation on the birth certificate (Art. 12, Para. 1). If both parents have not reached agreement about the name, the official
basis of recognition of the heterogenous religious and ethnic composition of the Bulgarian nation’. Not- shall enter in the birth certificate only one of the names proposed by the parents (Art. 12, Para. 2). If the
withstanding, the Constitutional Court established the protective character of the objectives and goals, parents do not propose a name, the official shall specify the name he/she considers most appropriate in the
concerning the groups of Bulgarian citizens with specific ethnic, religious, linguistic and cultural identity. case (Art. 12, Para. 3). If the name chosen for the child is derisive, disgraceful, publicly unacceptable or
The Court confirmed that the Constitution recognizes and guarantees the right of cultural life of their incompatible with the national pride of the Bulgarian people, the official shall have the right to refuse the
own, the freedom of religion, the right to study and use their own language for individuals, whose mother entry into the birth certificate, implementing the provisions of Para. 2 and 3.(Art. 12, Para. 4). The Law
tongue is not Bulgarian. In this respect the Constitution of Republic Bulgaria does not divert from the on the Civil Registration contains very detailed regulation for each part of the Bulgarian names. Article
general recognized principles and norms of the international law for the preservation and protection of the 13 (amend. SG, No. 96 of 2004) stipulates a specific right of patronymic for the individuals, belonging
ethnic, religious, linguistic and cultural identity of those individuals who wish to preserve their identity. to ethnic and religious minorities: ‘The patronymic of each person shall be formed from the given name
The Constitution is in compliance with the international treaties, in which Bulgaria is a party (respective- of the father and shall be entered with the suffix -ov or -ev and shall have an ending in accordance with
ly, Art. 27 of ICCPR and Art. 14 of ECHR). In the analysis of the MRF’s Statute the Court established: the sex of the child, except when the patronymic does not permit these suffixes, or if they contradict to
a member of the Movement can be every Bulgarian citizen; the rights deriving from the membership are the family, ethnic or religious traditions of the individual’. In this way these individuals shall preserve
not linked to the belonging to some ethnic and religious community; the loss of Bulgarian citizenship their ethnic and religious identity. Article 14, Para. 1 deals with the right of patronymic, including the

22 Promulgated: ‘State Gazette’ , No. 67 of 27 July 1999 , last amend. SG, No. 82 of 16 October 2009.
21 State Gazette, No. 35 from 28 April 1992.

102 103
cases of individuals, belonging to the minorities: ‘The patronymic of each person shall be the family name on equal opportunities and equal treatment. This is manifested both in the terminology and in essence
of the father with the suffix -ov or -ev and shall have an ending in accordance with the sex of the child, – in the principles laid down and the legislative decisions offered. It thus becomes possible to equalize the
except when the family, ethnic or religious tradition of the individual imposes otherwise’. Para. 2 (amend. terminology of the national legal instruments with the European standards related to equal treatment
SG, No. 96 of 2004) regulates the change of the family name in the case of marriage: ‘The family name and equal opportunities. Article 2 explicitly states that the law is targeted at the equality before the law;
adopted at marriage is adopted in compliance with the provisions in the Family Code’. The children of the equality of treatment and equal opportunities for participation in the public life; as well as effective anti-
same parents shall be entered with same family names (Art. 14, Para. 3). When a person is known to the discrimination protection. The anti-discrimination protection encompasses three big spheres: protection
public with a pen-name he/she shall be able with a decision of the court to add the pen-name to his/her in the exercise of the right to work; protection in the right of education and protection of other rights.
name (Art. 14, Para. 4). The different cases of necessity to change the name are regulated in Art. 19. The The act of adopting the law practically realized the codification process of the matter in the discrimina-
change of the given, the patronymic or the family name shall be accepted by the court on the basis of a tion protection field. It permeates the laws and the bylaws. The common anti-discrimination clause also
written application submitted by the interested party, when it is considered derisive, disgraceful, or pub- meets the highest European standard applicable in the matter: “Any direct or indirect discrimination on
licly unacceptable, as well as in the cases when important circumstances impose this (Art. 19, Para. 1). the grounds of gender, race, colour, nationality, ethnicity, human genom, citizenship, origin, religion or
An individual of Bulgarian origin who has acquired or restored his/her Bulgarian citizenship shall be able belief, education, political or other opinion, personal or social position, disability, age, sexual orientation,
to change his/her patronymic or family name with suffix -ov or -ev and shall have an ending in accord- marital or proprietary status, or any other characteristics established by law or an international treaty
ance with his/her sex and shall be able to adopt his/her Bulgarian given name by the order of the rapid to which Bulgaria is a part, shall be forbidden (Art. 4, Para. 1). In comparison to Art. 6, Para. 2 of the
procedures under the Civil Procedure Code. These procedures shall be exempt from state fees (Art. 19, Constitution this shows that discrimination generated characteristics have been substantially broadened
Para. 2). The new Art 19a (new, SG, No. 28 of 2001, into force from 1 July 2001) regulates the procedure through the introduction of the features “human genom”, “citizenship”, “disability”, “age” and “sexual
for the Bulgarian citizens whose names have been coercively changed; ‘The Bulgarian citizens which orientation”. Furthermore, the list of the characteristics given in the text is not a conclusive one and may
names have been coercively changed shall also be able at their own free will to restore their former names’. be supplemented by other texts found in international legal instruments to which Bulgaria is a party. The
The amended text provided the similar court procedure for the restoration of the coercively changed Law explicitly proclaims as discriminatory practices any harassment on the grounds of the characteristics
names. The new provision of Art. 19, Para. 2 (amend. SG, No. 96 of 2004, amend. SG, No. 30 of 2006, listed in Art. 4, Para. 1, sexual harassment, behaviour instigating discrimination, pursuit and racial seg-
into force from 12 July 2006) is in favour of the individuals, whose names have been changed coercively. regation alongside with the construction and maintenance of the architectural environment that impedes
Now they can use more rapid administrative procedure by submitting an application with the official at the access of disabled persons to public places (Art. 5).
the registration office: ‘The restoration of the names according to Para. 1 is accomplished by decision of
the official for the civil registration upon the written application of the claimant and after notary certifica- In § 1 of the Additional Provisions the Law gives legal definitions of concepts that are entirely new
tion of his/her signature. The decision of the official for civil registration can be appealed by the interested for the Bulgarian judicial system: “harassment”, “sexual harassment”, “pursuit”, “discrimination protec-
individuals and the public prosecutor in compliance with the Code on Administrative Procedures’. In the tive activities”, “instigating discrimination”, “unfavourable treatment”, “sexual orientation” and “multiple
very same way is proceeded with an application from both parents or the guardians to restore or change discrimination”. Cases that do not represent discriminatory practice are explicitly indicated. The most
the names of minors when their parent or parents’ names have been coercively changed. The application impressive new development along these lines is the establishment in the law of the so-called “positive
is submitted by both parents or the guardians. In case of disagreement between the parents the issue shall discrimination” the way it is determined by both the general international public law standards and the
be resolved by the district court (Art. 19a, Para. 3). The Bulgarian citizens born after the names of their European standards. “Positive discrimination” encompasses the adoption by the state of temporary special
parent or parents have been coercively changed can also restore or change their names in compliance with measures aimed at accelerating de facto equality between majority and minority. Those measures shall in
Para. 2, and the names of their underage children can be changed in compliance with Para. 3 no way entail as a consequence the maintenance of unequal or separate standards; these measures shall be
discontinued when the objectives of equality of treatment have been achieved. The Law on Protection on
Discrimination stipulates in Art. 7 a wide range of categories of measures of the “positive discrimination”
type. The author cites here only the measures concerning the individuals, belonging to minorities. There
is no discrimination in the cases of:
Specific legislation • different treatment of persons on the basis of religion, belief or gender related to an occupation
carried out in religious institutions or organizations when, by reason of the nature of the oc-
cupation or of the conditions in which it is carried out the religion, faith or gender constitutes a
The Law on Protection against Discrimination (LPD) was adopted by the Bulgarian parliament on 16 genuine and determining professional requirement in view of the character of the institution or
September 200323 and presents the common ground for the equality and the non-discrimination principle organization, provided the objective is legitimate and the requirement does not exceed what is
in the internal affairs legislation of Bulgaria. The law is a major step in the process of approximation of the necessary for its achievement (Art. 7, Para. 1, item 3
Bulgarian legislation with the European community law, transposing partially the European standards • “different treatment of persons on the basis of religion, belief or gender in religious education or
training, including training or education for the purpose of performing an occupation referred to
in item 3”. (Art. 7, Para. 1, item 4)
23 State Gazette Nr. 86 of 30 September 2003, last amend. SG Nr. 74 of 15 September 2009.

104 105
• measures and programmes within the meaning of the Encouragement of Employment Act of the Law on Protection on Discrimination: “An employer who has received a complaint of harassment
(EOEA) (Art. 7, Para. 1, item 9). (What is meant here is Art. 23 of Chapter III of the EOEA: in the workplace from a worker or employee, including sexual harassment, is obliged to immediately
“ When publicizing vacant positions employers do not have the right to establish requirements perform an investigation, take measures to stop the harassment and impose disciplinary sanctions if the
based on gender, age, nationality, ethnic origin or health status. Exceptions are only accepted with harassment was committed by another worker or employee.” The LPD gives a legal definition of “harass-
respect to gender, age or reduced capacity for work where, by reason of the nature of the particular ment” in § 1, Para. 1 of the Additional Provisions. This is “…any unwanted conduct on the grounds of
occupation or job done, gender, respectively age or health status constitutes a genuine and deter- the characteristics referred to in Art. 4, Para. 1, that has been expressed physically, verbally or in any other
mining professional requirement.”) way with the purpose or effect of violating the dignity of a person, and of creating a hostile, degrading,
• special measures in favour of persons or groups of persons who are disadvantaged on the grounds or threatening environment”. It is evident that this definition is based on the definition of “gender based
of the characteristics referred to in Art. 4, Para. 1 intended to provide them with equal opportuni- pursuit” given in the Directive 2002/73/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 23 September
ties, so far and as long as these measures are deemed necessary (Art. 7, Para. 1, item 14 – former 2002 25, but it can be useful also for harassment on the grounds of race, ethnic origin, etc.
item 13)
• measures protecting the identity of persons belonging to ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities, The regulation presents a progressive development in the protection against harassment and sexual har-
and their right of sustaining and developing, individually or jointly with the rest of the group, assment, but is liable to criticism along the following lines: What would happen if harassment or sexual
their culture, of professing and practicing their religion, or of using their own language (Art. 7, harassment are undertaken by the employer himself and what kind of responsibility would he bear? The
Para. 1, item 16 – former item 15) lack of a legally laid down hypothetic norm where these offences are the act of the employer is a significant
• measures in the fields of training and education for providing participation of persons belonging flaw of the Law. And, these are practically the most common cases. A fundamental element of the equal-
to ethnic minorities, so far and as long as these measures are deemed necessary (Art. 7, Para. 1, ity concept is to be seen in the encouraging measures laid down in Art. 24 of the LPD. The text reads
item 17 – former item 16). as follows: “Where necessary to achieve the objectives of this Act, the employer is obliged to encourage
persons belonging to under-represented gender or ethnic groups to apply for a particular job or position.”
The author ought to emphasize again that terms referring to individuals from the ethnic minorities are The instrument is likely to suffer criticism with respect to the following considerations. In my opinion,
used inconsistently in the law. While Art. 7, item 16 treats “individuals belonging to ethnic, religious or given the way it is, the Art. 24 provision unifies encouraging measures aimed at two different categories of
linguistic minorities”, it is inexplicable why measures aimed at positive discrimination in the educational people that are the subjects of discrimination practice. This specific norm is inconsistent both as regards
field that are listed in item 17 shall only refer to people belonging to ethnic minorities. Such type of incon- the international legal standards of arranging the rights of persons belonging to minority groups, and the
sistency is inexplicable, considering the fact that Bulgarian legislature comprises measures of the “positive European legislation in the field of equal opportunities for men and women. Article 27 of the Interna-
discrimination” type in the National Education Act and other by-laws especially as regards minority re- tional Covenant for Civil and Political Rights employs the term “persons belonging to ethnic, religious
lated individuals. A new development for the Bulgarian legislature is the all-embracing prohibition for the and language minorities”.
employer to observe when posting vacancies. It is to the effect that they may impose requirements bearing
to Art. 4, Para. 1 characteristics, except for the cases covered by Art. 7. Until then such a prohibition only The Law on Protection against Discrimination accepts this expression but does not use it consistently
existed in Art. 23 of the Law of Encouragement of Employment (LEE). Undoubtedly, the major protec- throughout the texts. It is inexplicable why the employer should be obliged to conduct encouragement
tive function of the regulation will manifest the respect of individuals belonging to minorities, gender and measures aimed at persons belonging to ethnic minorities and disregard those persons belonging to reli-
age discrimination. Besides that, the law introduces a ban on the employer’s right of asking the candidate gious and language minorities? The more so, Art. 36, Para. 2 of the Constitution mentions “citizens whose
to supply information on characteristics under Art. 4, Para. 1, with the possible exceptions of the cases mother tongue is not Bulgarian”, and Art 54, Para. 1 also mentions the feature “ethnic self-identification”
under Art. 7, or whenever this is necessary for the needs of investigation in view of obtaining access to in relation to the right of culture. European law – both primary and secondary – incorporates a detailed
work with classified information complying with the terms and conditions set by the Law on Protection regulation of the so called encouraging measures envisaging the under-represented gender. There are also
of Classified Information. Equality without consideration of Art. 4, Para. 1 characteristics are an integral a number of cases in national courts and in the European Court in Luxembourg regarding the actual
part of the professional training and postgraduate re-training, as well as of qualifying for employment implementation of these measures. The European legislation fails to differentiate between measures tar-
promotion, or seniority and rank. The employer shall provide equal employment opportunities for all geted at the under-represented gender (whether female or male) and the encouraging measures targeted
workers and employees and shall also apply identical criteria when assessing their activities (Art. 15). The at the individuals belonging to the minority groups. The underlying theoretical considerations are that
next new development introduced by the law concerns harassment at the workplace24. The Bulgarian leg- neither women, nor men represent a minority. In my opinion, Para. 2 of the same text shares the same
islation has already made the first timid attempts in the direction when accepting Art.127, Para. 2 of the imperfection: “The employer is obliged, all other conditions considered equal, to encourage the profes-
Labour Code (SG, No 25/2001). Within its meaning the employer undertakes the obligation to respect sional development and participation of employees belonging to a given gender or ethnic group where this
the employee’s dignity over the time spanning the job performance under the legal employment relation- gender or ethnic group is under-represented among the employees performing a certain job or occupying
ship. The above-mentioned gap in the Bulgarian legislation was partially filled by the provision of Art. 17

25 “Gender based harassment” is the occurrence of unwanted behaviour related to a person’s gender, which (behaviour) would violate that
24 There is also special provision on the sexual harassment at the workplace. person’s dignity, and create humiliating, hostile, unfavourable environment or environment provoking the person to self-defence” (Art. 2).

106 107
a given position.” The text would have been compatible with the European standards if the two categories Legal guarantees for the rights of persons, belonging to minorities
of individual had been given a separate place and a separate provision to match each of them.
in the penal code
The present state of things, however, brings forward the element of mechanical combination between the
European equal opportunities standard and the British model of encouragement measures directed at the The Bulgarian Penal Code26 contains a series of legal guarantees for the protection of the minorities’
ethnic minorities. The LPD in its Art. 38 envisages also enhancing measures on balanced participation of rights. The main crimes are in Chapter Three: crimes against the rights and freedoms of the Bulgarian
women and men and persons belonging to ethnic, religious, and language minorities in the national and citizens. The first part has the title “Crimes Against the National and Racial Equality”.
public agencies and in the local authorities. These agencies are expected to conduct policies on fostering Article 162 (amended – SG, Nr. 27 of 2009) incriminates the propaganda of racial, national or ethnic
the balanced share of participation both in the governance and decision-taking processes. Still another hostility. By the last amendment the text was made strongly, including the feature “ethnic hostility” and
new development introduced by the law is the multiple discrimination concept. No doubt, the Bulgarian increasing the punishment. In the amended text there was a punishment by deprivation of liberty for up
legislator accepts that persons subjected to double and triple discrimination on the basis of more than to three years and public censure. The new text provides a punishment by deprivation of liberty up to
one characteristics, experience much more difficulties (Art. 11, Para. 2). A legal definition of “multiple four years, penalty of 5 000 up to 10 000 leva and public censure: (1) A person who propagates or abets
discrimination” is given in § 1, item 11 of the Additional Provision to the law: “discrimination on the to racial, national or ethnic hostility or hatred, or to racial discrimination, by speech, printing materials
basis of more than one characteristics referred to under Art. 4, Para. 1”. or other means of mass information, through electronically information systems or trough other means
shall be punished by deprivation of liberty for up to four years and penalty of 5 000 up to 10 000 leva
Most severe discriminative practice is shown regarding women and children. They may be discriminated and public censure;
against according to gender, ethnic, religious, or language minority affiliation, age, disability, marital Paragraph (2) incriminates the use of violance, based on nationality, race, religion or political convictions
status, race, religion or beliefs, etc. In such cases the government authorities and the public and local and by the last amendment also increase the punishment from three to four years deprivation of liberty:
government agencies undertake priority measures within the meaning of Art. 7, Para. 1, item 12 and 13 a person who uses violence against another or damages his/her property because of his/her nationality,
to level the opportunities of people that are victims of multiple discrimination. It is not clear why the leg- race, religion, or because of his/her political convictions, shall be punished by imprisonment for up to four
islator should restrict the measures only to areas of education and training (item 12) and special measures years, penalty of 5 000 up to 10 000 leva and public censure.
benefiting individuals and groups of people in under-privileged conditions (item 13). The last place in Sec- Paragraph (3) deals with the crime of organisation of group aimed at committing the precedent acts or the
tion II, Chapter Two of the law is taken by the new commitment to offer training in the field of equality tolerance of the mentioned crimes: a person who forms or leads an organization or group which has set
between the majority and the minorities. Individuals involved in the process of education and training itself the objective of committing acts under the preceding paragraphs or systematically tolerate the com-
and also those compiling textbooks and teaching materials are obliged to present information and apply mittement of such acts, shall be punished by imprisonment for one to six years, penalty of 10 000 up to
educational methods in the manner aimed at overcoming negative stereotypes covering persons belonging 30 000 leva and public censure. Article 163 was also amenden in 2009 (SG, Nr. 27/2009) (1) The persons
to racial, ethnic, and religious groups and disabled persons (Art. 35, Para. 3). who participate in a mob rallied to attack groups of the population, individual citizens or their property
in connection with their national, ethnic or racial affiliation, shall be punished:
The Commission for Protection from Discrimination was set up in 2005 as a specialised body according 1. the abettors and leaders - imprisonment for up to five years
the Law on Protection from Discrimination. It provides for two administrative procedures (a general 2. all others - imprisonment for up to one year, or probation.
procedure and a conciliation procedure) before the Commission, as well a procedure before the civil (2) If the mob or some of the participants are armed, the punishment shall be:
courts in Bulgaria. The Commission has the power to issue mandatory directions for prevention and 1. for the abettors and leaders - imprisonment for one to six years
discontinuation of violations and for restoration of the original situation and can impose administrative 2. for all others - imprisonment for up to three years.
penal sanctions. The sanctions are: (3) If an assault has been performed resulting in severe physical injury or death, the abettors and leaders
• for persons, who commit discrimination – penalty of 250 up to 2 000 leva, if they are not liable shall be punished by imprisonment for three to fifteen years, and all the others - by imprisonment for up
to more severe punishment ( Art. 78, Para 1) to five years, if they are not liable to more severe punishment.
• persons, which dose not comply with the obligations under laws are liable to penalty of 250 up to The crimes against the religious denominations are as follows:
2 000 leva (Art. 80, Para 1) Article 164, paragraph 1: A person who propagates hatred on religious basis by speech, through the
• The same violation, committed by juridical person is liable to penalty of 250 up to 2 5000 leva press, or other means for mass information, trough electronically information systems or in some other
(Art. 80, Para 2) way by his/her actions, shall be punished by imprisonment for up to four years or by probation, as well as
by penalty of 5 000 up to 10 000 leva.
□ Enclosure 1 - Synoptic table – Specific legislation BG Paragraph 2 incriminates the profanation of religious places: A person who profanate or damage religious

26 Promulgated - State Gazette (SG) No. 26 of 2 April 1968 with many amendments, the last one in SG No. 80 of 9 October 2009.

108 109
tempel (church), prayer place, sanctuary or contiguous building, their symbols or funeral monuments, The right to learn the mother tongue - Provisions in the field of primary and second-
shall be punished by deprivation of liberty up to three years or probation , as welle as by penalty of 3 000 ary education.
up to 10 000 leva.
Article 165 (1) A person who, by force or threat hinders the citizens from freely practicing their faith The principal provisions on the learning of the mother tongue are contained in the National Educational
or from performing their religious rituals and services, which do not violate the laws of the country, the Act (NEA)27. Exercising the basic constitutional right of education shall be accomplished without any
public order and morals, shall be punished by imprisonment for up to one year. (2) The same punishment discrimination. ‘Restrictions or privileges based on race, nationality, sex, ethnic and social origin, religion
shall also be imposed upon a person who in the same way compels another to take part in religious rituals and social status shall not be tolerated’ (Art. 4, Para. 2 NEA). The last amendments to the NEA provide
and services. (3) For the acts under Article 163, committed against groups of the population, individual new principles in the matter of Bulgarian education. In addition to the principles of the secularization and
citizens or their property, in connection with their religious affiliation, the punishment provided therein the free of charge education in the state-owned and municipal schools (Art. 5 and 6), Art. 4a (new, SG,
shall be applied. No. 41/2006) proclaims the principles of transparency and foresight of the development of the education-
Article 166: A person who forms a political organization on religious basis or who by speech, through al system. For the implementation of these principles the National Assembly (the Parliament) as proposed
the press, by his/her actions or in some other way, uses the church or religion for propaganda against the by the Council of Ministers shall adopt a National Programme for the development of the school and
rule of the state or its undertakings, shall be punished by imprisonment for up to three years, if he/she pre-school education and training. This National Programme shall contain the national priorities and is
is not subject to more severe punishment. The crime against the labor’s rights, relevant to the persons, aimed at developing the school and pre-school education and training (new, SG, No. 41/2006).
belonging to minorities is Art. 172, Para. 1: A person who intentionally impedes another to take a job, or
compels him/her to leave a job because of his/her nationality, race, religion, social origin, membership in The right to study the mother tongue is established in Art. 8, Para. 1 of NEA: ‘The official language used
a political party, organization, movement or coalition with political objective, or because of his/her next- in nurseries and day care centres, schools and auxiliary units is Bulgarian. School training provides condi-
of-kin political convictions, shall be punished by imprisonment for up to three years or shall be fined up tions for mastering the literary Bulgarian language.’ The right to conduct school training in the mother
to five thousand Bulgarian leva. On November 5, 2005, the Pazardhik District Court passed a 3–year tongue is stipulated in Para. 2 (amend. SG, No. 36/1998): ‘Pupils whose mother tongue is not Bulgarian,
suspended sentence on Ahmed Ahmed Musa for preaching radical Islam and instigating public hatred on besides the compulsory study of the Bulgarian language, shall have the right to study their mother tongue
religious grounds. He was also found guilty disgracing the national flag. During the trial Musa made a in the municipal schools under the protection and control of the state.’ The Rules and Regulations for the
full confession and pledged guilty of the charges brought against him. Five physicians confirmed that he Implementation of NEA 28 reaffirm this right29 and provide legal definition of the term ‘mother tongue’:
suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and as such was extremely susceptible to outside influence. Musa it is the language in which the child communicates in his/her family (Art. 8, Para. 4). The amendments
chose not to appeal the sentence. to NEA from 2002 embraced the concept of mutual understanding and tolerance in the Bulgarian edu-
cational system. Art. 15, Para. 1 states: ‘The state educational requirements shall determine the levels of
□ Enclosure 1 - Synoptic table – Criminal Law BG necessary general educational and vocational training and shall create conditions for the formation of a
free, high morals and enterprising personality, respecting the laws and rights of the others, their language,
religion and culture.’ The Law on the Degrees of Education, the General Education Minimum, and the
Education Plan (LDEGEMEP)30 proclaims in Art. 8 the goals and content of the general educational
training. This training is determined by the mission of the Bulgarian school to ensure to every Bulgarian
citizen the possibility to advance and to develop him/herself. The principles to be observed are: protec-
Civil and administrative law tion of the fundamental human rights, the rights of the child, the traditions of the Bulgarian culture and
education, the achievements of the world culture, the values of the civil society and the freedom of faith
□ Enclosure 1 - Synoptic table – Civil and Administrative Law BG and of thought. Among the objectives of the general educational training are listed the value orientations
connected with the feeling of Bulgarian national identity, respect for the other, fellow-feeling and civil
responsibility (Art. 9, Point 2).

A norm of the ‘positive discrimination’ type is included in the provisions related to the preparation for
the first school year of the children. This preparation one year before to the admission in the first class
Linguistic rights and obligations is obligatory and free of charge for the parents and guardians in Bulgaria in compliance with Art. 20,

The fundamental provisions on the linguistic rights and obligations are established in the Constitution.
The study and use of the Bulgarian language is a right and obligation of every Bulgarian citizen (Art. 36 27 State Gazette No 86/1991, last amended SG, No 74 of 15 September 2009.
28 State Gazette, No 68 of 30 July 1999, last amend. SG, N0 87 of 3 November 2009.
of the Constitution). Citizens whose mother tongue is not Bulgarian shall have the right to study and use 29 ‘Students for whom Bulgarian is not the mother tongue can study their mother tongue in the municipal schools according to the state
their own language alongside with the compulsory study of the Bulgarian language. educational standards for the respective educational level, general educational minimum and the educational plan’ (Art. 8, Para 3).
30 State Gazette No. 67 of 27 July 1999, last amend. SG, No. 74 of 15 September 2009.

110 111
Para. 1 NEA (amend. SG, No. 90/2002). The training of the children is conducted in preparatory groups Implementation of the right to learn the mother tongue
in the nurseries or day care centres, or in the preparatory classes of the schools. ‘Apart from the training
The legal provisions on the implementation of the right to learning the mother tongue are established in
under Para. 1, preparatory classes shall be organized for children with poor command of the Bulgarian
Decree No. 86 of 12 March 1997 of the Council of Ministers on the certification of the state register of
language, applying a specialized methodology for the Bulgarian language acquisition’ (Art. 20, Para. 2
specialities according to the educational-qualification degrees in the high educational institutions of the
amend. SG, No. 86/2003, in force from 1 January 2004). The Law on Protection against Discrimination
Republic of Bulgaria32. Pursuant to point 1.2.14. as mother tongues are listed Turkish, Armenian, He-
reiterates this norm in Para. 5 of the transitional and concluding provisions.
brew, Roma and other languages (Bulgarian, English, Spanish, Italian, German, Russian, French).
Until 1991 the right of learning the mother tongue was implemented as facultative school matter. Between
Decree No. 4 of 2 September 1999 for the general educational minimum and the distribution of the
1991 to 1998 by Act of the Government the mother tongue learning became an elective subject. Since
school hours of the Ministry of Education and Science33 specifies the envisaged school hours for the learn-
1998 it has become compulsory-elective subject in the municipal schools and the state schools. Article 15,
ing of the mother tongue.
Para. 3 of the LDEGEMEP explicitly states that the learning of the mother tongue as compulsory-eligible
Pursuant to Art. 5: ‘School hours for the compulsory elective programme ensure conditions for train-
subject in the learning plan: ‘The compulsory-elective education shall ensure additional education within
ing in addition to the general educational minimum on the general subjects and for the study of mother
the framework of the subjects in the cultural - education fields as provided by Art. 10, corresponding to
tongue by respecting the right of the students to choose’.
the interests and the individual abilities of the students. In the compulsory-elective education shall be in-
The religion as a school subject is included in the optional electives programme34. The break up of the
cluded the study of the mother tongue in compliance with Art. 8, Para. 2 of the National Education Act’.
school hours by subjects is as follows: compulsory elective programme – 1st form - 62 hours; 2nd form -
The ideological content of provisions concerning theological schools in Bulgaria is also non-discrimina-
64 hours; 3rd form - 80 hours; 4th form - 80 hours; 5th form - 119 hours; 6th form - 119 hours; 7th form
tional one – Art. 30 of NEA (amend. SG, No. 36/1998). According to the Rules and Regulations for the
- 102 hours; 8th form - 102 hours; 9th form - 180 hours; 10th form - 432 hours; 11th form - 792 hours; 12th
Implementation of the National Education Act the secular education shall not admit the imposition on
form - 806 hours.
the students of any ideological or religious doctrines (Art. 4, Para. 1). In the secular schools religions are
On this legal basis learning in Turkish, learning in Hebrew and learning in Armenian are now imple-
studied in a historical, philosophical and cultural aspect through the educational content of the various
mented in Bulgaria.
school disciplines (Art. 4, Para. 2). In the secular schools religions can be studied in the classes of op-
tional-elective subjects (Art. 4, Para. 3).

Linguistic obligations
The right to learn the mother tongue - Provisions in the higher education The Bulgarian domestic legislation contains a large scale of provisions on the obligation to use and learn
the official language. The main norms giving a clear image of the general concept of the Bulgarian legisla-
The main principle in the Bulgarian higher education is it is secular. The high secular education is inde-
tor can be cited here. Pursuant to the Rules and regulations for the application of the National Education
pendent from ideologies, religions and political doctrines. It is realized in accordance with the universal
Act Article 8: “The education of the children and the students in the system of national education shall
values and national traditions (Art. 3 of Higher Eduation Act31). The Higher Education Act (HEA)
be carried out in the literary Bulgarian language”.
contains a broad formulation of non-discrimination, which ensures the principle of equality for the in-
In the newly adopted Code of Criminal Procedure35 the provision on the equality of all Bulgarian citizens
dividuals, belonging to minorities as well. ‘In the high education no privileges or restrictions are allowed
is completed with the obligation to conduct the process in the Bulgarian language. Pursuant to Art. 11,
based on age, race, nationality, ethnic belonging, sex, social origin, political opinions and religion with
Para. 1, titled “Equality of the citizens in the criminal procedure: “All citizens who are participants in
the exception of the cases explicitly mentioned in the rules of the activities of the high educational institu-
the criminal procedure are equal before the law. No privileges or restrictions are allowed based on race,
tions according to the specificity of the education and the future profession’ (Art. 4 HEA). Furthermore,
nationality, ethnic origin, sex, descent, religion, education, faith, political affiliation, personal and social
activities based on discriminative characteristics have been declared infringements upon the academic
status or material status”.
autonomy and have been banned. Along these lines, Art. 22, Point 4 of the HEA postulates that it is im-
According to Art. 21, Para.1: “Penal proceedings shall be conducted in the Bulgarian language. (2) Per-
plausible to conduct activities infringing upon any constitutional rights of the members of the academic
sons who do not speak the Bulgarian language may use their native or other language. In such cases an
community based on race, nationality, ethnic origin, social background, religion, religious convictions or
interpreter shall be appointed”.
political affiliation. The Additional provisions of HEA provide the main disposition on the departments
of theology at the Universities. Pursuant §3.(1) ‘High educational institutions and departments of theol-
ogy apply this law in accordance with the acts for their creation and the norms regulating the relation-
ships between the state and the religious denominations.’

32 Promulgate, State Gazette (SG) No.24/1997 Amend., SG No. 42/1997; 76/1998; 39 and 86/1999; 31/2000.
33 Promulgated - State Gazette (SG) No.80/1999 Amended - SG No.18/2000.
34 School hours for freely selectable program ensure conditions for education outside of the cultural-educational spheres envisaged in
Art. 10 of the Law for the Degree of Education, the General Education Minimum, and the Education Plan, including religion (Art. 21).
31 State Gazette No 112 of 27 December 1995, last amend. SG, No. 74 of 15 September 2009. 35 Promulgated in State Gazette (SG) No 86 of 28 October 2005, operative since 29 April 2006, last amend. SG, No 33 of 30 April 2009.

112 113

Religious rights and freedoms The provisions of the Law specify the constitutional rights on religion and faith and provide the legal
status of the religious communities and institutions and their relations with the state (Art. 1). The main
The religious rights and freedoms are proclaimed in the basic law: the Constitution of the Republic of principles proclaimed in the Constitution are specified in detailed by the Law:
Bulgaria. The main principles in the regulation of this matter are the following: • The right of religion and faith has an absolute character, including the right of free choice of religion
and free practicing of religion. It is fundamental, absolute, subjective, personal and inviolable.
• Practicing any religion is free (Art. 13, Para.1 of the Constitution) • The obligations, established by the Constitution and the Law shall not be defaulted upon on grounds
• The religious institutions shall be separate from the state (Art. 13, Para. 2) of religion or other convictions.
• The Eastern Orthodox Christianity is considered the traditional religion in Bulgaria (Art. 13, Para. 3) • The principle of secularization means that the religious institutions shall be separated from the
• Religious institutions and communities as well as religious faith shall not be used to political ends state. “No state interference in the internal organization of the self-administered religious institu-
(Art. 13, Para. 4 of the Constitution). tions shall be allowed” (Art. 4, Para. 2).
• Discrimination on the ground of religion and faith is prohibited. “Nobody shall be persecuted or
restricted in their rights because of their religious faith. No restrictions or privileges based on affili-
ation or rejection of affiliation to a religion are allowed”( Art. 3, Para. 1).
Freedom of religion and faith • The religions are free and equal in rights (Art. 4). The Law on Religions reaffirms the historically
The freedom of conscience, the freedom of thought and the choice of religion or religious or atheistic established position of the Eastern Orthodox Christianity as the traditional religion in Bulgaria.
views are proclaimed and guaranteed as fundamental individual rights of the Bulgarian citizens. • The registration of the religious communities is not compulsory. The right of religion and faith can
The freedom of conscience, the freedom of thought and the choice of religion and religious or atheistic be practised through associations without registration.
views are inviolable. The state shall assist the maintenance of tolerance and respect among the believers of • The right of religion shall be exercised through forming and manifestation of religious faith, es-
different denominations, and among believers and non-believers (Art. 37, Para. 1). tablishment or participation in a religious community, organization of a community’s institutions,
The constitutionally proclaimed freedoms may be subject to restrictions. The grounds for that are national accomplishment of religious training and education through dissemination of the respective faith
security, public order, public health and ethics and the rights of the others. The listed grounds are compat- orally, in print, by electronic media, in the form of lectures, seminars, courses, programmes, etc.
ible with the internationally accepted restrictions, especially with the provision of Art. 9, Para. 2 of the Art. 5, Para. 1 Religious faith may be manifested through carrying out of the respective customs,
European Convention of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms. rituals and worships (Art. 5, Para. 2). The religious faith is expressed in private when it is performed
The freedom of conscience and religion shall not be practiced to the detriment of national security, public by one member or members of the religious community or in the presence only of persons belong-
order, public health and ethics, or the rights and freedoms of others (Art. 37, Para. 2 of the Constitution). ing to the community, and in public - when its expression can become accessible to people not
belonging to the respective religious community (Art. 5, Para. 3).

The right of religion is broadly formulated. According to Art. 6, Para. 1 it shall include the following rights:
Law on religions • To create and maintain religious communities and institutions with structures and ways of repre-
sentation which are appropriate according to the free conviction of their members;
The Law on Religions is relatively new, it was adopted by the National Assembly of the Republic of Bul- • To establish and maintain places of worship or religious meetings;
garia on 20 December 200236 and abrogates the Law on Religions of 1949. The abrogated law required • To establish and maintain appropriate charitable or humanitarian institutions;
groups whose activities have a religious elements to be registered with the Council of Ministers37. A mod- • To produce, acquire and use, to the extent related to the worship aims, the materials necessary for
ern regulation on this matter became operative circumstantially in Bulgaria. Following the criticism by the rites and the customs of a religion or a faith;
the Council of Europe in 2001of a draft law on religion and the parliamentary elections in June 2001 • To compose, publish and disseminate religious publications;
which resulted in a new government, Parliament took no further action regarding that draft. Three new • To deliver and receive religious training in a language at one’s choice
drafts were introduced to the Parliament. At its first session in April 2002, the National Assembly’s new • To preach or teach a religion or a faith in places appropriate for this purpose in the opinion of the
ad hoc Commission on Religious Issues decided that it would focus on the problem between the Govern- organizations, as well as to create and maintain educational establishments that are appropriate ac-
ment and the religious denominations. The Commission considered an analysis submitted by Maxim, the cording to the organizations, following the requirements of the law;
Patriarch of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, which calls for a new law on religion and the legal recogni- • To collect and receive voluntary financial and other support and donations from individuals and
tion of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church as a public entity. institutions;
• To observe the days of rest and respect the religious holidays;
• To establish and maintain relations with persons and communities on issues of religion and faith
36 State Gazette, No. 120 of 2002, last amend. SG No. 74 of 15 September 2009. in the country and abroad.
37 According the data presented by Jasmina Donkova, senior specialist at the Direction “Religions” by the Council of Ministers
by November 2006 85 religious denominations were registrated and 5 were in process of registration. www.pravoslavie-bg/content/
view/4122/202. As to May 2008 there are 98 registered denominations.

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Parents and tutors shall have the right to ensure religious education to their children according to their to create organizations, whose activity is aimed at violating the rights and freedoms of others. The limits
own convictions (Art. 6, Para. 2). of the enjoyment of the religious rights and freedoms are predetermined by the available other values, also
The restrictions listed in art. 37, Para. 2 of the Constitution are reiterated in more detail here: Freedom protected by the Constitution. Such values are the fundamental rights and freedoms of the citizens.
of religions shall not be directed against national security, public order, people’s health and the morals or
the rights and freedoms of persons under the jurisdiction of the republic of Bulgaria or other states. Other The second contested disposition was Art. 10, Para. 1 and Para. 2, as well as § 2, Para. 3 of the Transi-
grounds for limitations of the right of religion, different from those listed, shall not be introduced (Art. 7, tional and Final Provisions.
Para. 1). Religious communities and institutions and religious faith cannot be used for political purposes Article 10, Para. 1 stipulates: “The traditional religion in the Republic of Bulgaria is the Eastern Orthodox. It
(Art. 7, Para. 2). plays a historic role for the Bulgarian statehood and has a genuine meaning in the life of the state.
The special historical role and position of the Eastern Orthodox Church is also specified: “The traditional § 2, Para. 3 of the Transitional and Final Provisions voice and represent the autocephalous Bulgarian
religion in the Republic of Bulgaria is the Eastern Orthodox. It plays a historic role in the Bulgarian state- Orthodox Church, which under the name Patriarchy, is the successor of the Bulgarian Exarchate and is
hood and has a genuine meaning in the state’s life. Its voice and representative is the autocephalous Bul- member of the United, Holy, Congregational and Apostolic Church. It is presided by the Holy Synod and
garian Orthodox Church, which under the name Patriarchy, is the successor of the Bulgarian Exarchate is represented by the Bulgarian Patriarch who is the metropolitan of Sofia. (2) The Bulgarian Orthodox
and is a member of the United, Holy, Congregational and Apostolic Church. It is presided by the Holy Church is a legal entity. Its structure and management are established in its statute”
Synod and is represented by the Bulgarian Patriarch who is also the metropolitan of Sofia” (Art. 10, Para. § 2, Para. 3 of the Transitional and Final Provisions: “The court officially incorporates in a closed-door
The Bulgarian Orthodox Church is ipso iure (by the Law on Religions) a legal entity. Its structure and session the registered religions under paragraph 1 except for the religion under Article 10. In this case the
management are established in its statute (Art. 10, Para. 2). court could not refuse the registration.”
The Law contains a detailed regulation on the registration of the religious communities. Pursuant to Art. The claim asserted that through these dispositions one religion was placed in a position of inequality and
14 religious communities shall acquire the status of a legal entity under the provisions and according to was privileged in comparison with the other religions. The members of Parliament consider it as direct
the procedures of this law. interference in the internal organization of the Bulgarian Eastern Orthodox Church on behalf of the
Registration of religious communities as legal entities shall be accomplished by the Sofia Municipal Court state. This, in their opinion does not support the mutual understanding, tolerance and respect on matters
under the procedure of Chapter 46 of the Civil Procedures Code (Art. 15, Para. 1). It is not allowed for related to the freedom of conscience and religions. They claim this is in contradiction to Art. 6, Para. 2,
more than one legal entity to exist for one religion under the same name and in the same headquarters Art. 13, Para. 2, Art. 37, Para. 1 of the Constitution and Art. 9 of ECHR.
(Art. 15, Para. 2). The Sofia Municipal Court may require expert opinion in relation to the registration of For this item of the claim the Constitutional Court did not reach a majority vote and it was rejected.
the religious communities by the Directorate of Religions of the Council of Ministers (Art. 16). The lack of majority vote impeded the formulation of common motives for the decision. There were two
In 2003 some of the provisions of the Law on Religions were contested by a group of 50 deputies before different statements supported by the judges. According the first group this regulation was in compli-
the Constitutional Court of Bulgaria. They claimed contradictions of the legal rules with the European ance with Art, 13, Para. 3 of the Constitution underlying the traditional role of the Bulgarian Eastern
convention on human rights and fundamental freedoms (ECHR) and the International Covenant on Orthodox Church. The recognition of the role of the prevailing religion in the respective country is not
Civil and Political Rights. The contested norms were the following: an exception in Europe (Art. 4 of the Constitution of Denmark; § 2 of the Constitution of Norway; § 4
of the Act on the Succession to the throne in Sweden; Art. 3 of the Constitution of Greece; Art 1 of the
Art. 7, Para. 4: Rights and freedoms of persons who are members of a religious community shall not be Constitution of Cyprus; Art. 8 of the Constitution of Italy; the situation of the Anglican Church in the
limited by the internal rules, rituals and rites of this community or institution”. The claimants state that United Kingdom39). Thus, the ascertaining of the prevailing religion is in the spirit of the actual European
this provision concerns not only the fundamental rights and freedoms, but all rights and obligations, constitutional tradition. The equality of all religions is expressly proclaimed and guaranteed by the Law
comprising the values system of the citizens. According to the deputies this prohibition is an unaccept- on Religions in the Preamble and Art. 4, Para. 1. The reference to “Orthodox”, “United”, “Holy”, “Con-
able by interference of the Constitution in the internal matter of the self- governed religious communities. gregational and Apostolic Church” are terms with theological content and have no juridical relevance to
Thus this is in contradiction to Art. 6 and Art. 13, Para. 1 and 2 of the Constitution, as well as non- the constitutionality of the provision. The Church has two denominations: one for theological, internal
compliance with Art. 9, Para. 1 and 2 of ECHR and Art. 18 of the International Covenant on Civil and use, the second for the secular, legal regulation. The dogmas about the apostology, the cathedral, synodal
Political Rights (ICCPR). form of governance, or the rule that the patriarch shall be the metropolitan of the capital city do not affect
In its Decision No. 12 of 15 July 200338 the Constitutional Court finds this argumentation non-contra- the constitutionality of the text.
vening to the Constitution, to ECHR and ICCPR. The rule of Art. 7, Para. 4 guarantees the protection The disposition that the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is a legal entity does not contravene to Art. 6 of
of the constitutional rights and freedoms. The religious communities and institutions, to whom internal the Constitution. This constitutional provision rules the equality of the citizens and does not exclude the
rules, rituals and rites the prohibition of Art. 7, Para. 4 is aimed are voluntary organizations of individuals. right of the legislator to create different regime for the various categories of legal entities. The Law on
They implement the constitutional right of freedom of association. This right is not absolute and is subject
to constitutionally proclaimed restrictions, formulated in Art. 44, Para. 2. One of them is the prohibition
39 See for more detailed Peteva, Jenia in Law and Religion in Post-Communist Europe, Editors: Ferrari, Silvio and Durham, W. Cole,
Peeters, 2003, p. 37 and further; Donkova, Jasmina. About the Constitutionality of the Law on Religions, Jurisprudence World, No.
38 State Gazette, No. 66/2003. 2/2003, p. 117 – 118.

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Religions embraces the more liberal democratic standards in practicing a religion. Every individual can acquisition of the status of legal entity (by law and by registration) demonstrates the inequality of the
practice his/her own religion trough an association. There is no obligation for registration of the religious legal regime of the religious denominations. As it acquires the status of legal entity by law, the Bulgarian
community. Art. 14 stipulates: “Religious communities shall acquire the status of a legal entity on the Orthodox Church is exempt of the obligations which exist for the other denominations, as well of the
conditions and according to the procedures of this law.” The revised formulation of the text shows clearly sanctions that may be imposed on them. This places it in a privileged position in comparison to the other
that the registration is a possibility, but not an obligation for the religious communities. Thus, the right denominations, although Art. 13, Para. 3 of the Constitution does not create a special privileged status
of religion and faith can be exercised through association in non-registered communities. When the wish for the Eastern Orthodoxy. This inequality in the legal regime of the denominations violates Art. 6 of the
of the citizens in the association created by them to become an independent legal entity, participating on Constitution. The same principle is evoked demonstrating the contradiction between § 2, Para. 3 of the
their behalf and on their own account in various legal relations they must register it as such. Transitional and Final Provisions to Art. 6 of the Constitution.
There is no constitutional prohibition for the state to recognize by law the status of a legal entity a certain
community, in this case the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. This recognition does not in any way impede The third contested disposition was § 1, Item 3 of the of the Transitional and Final Provisions: “religious
the right of association. According to this argumentation the claim is not grounded. The second opinion institution” is a religious community registered in accordance with the Law on Religions which has the
of the constitutional judges states that the claim is well founded and must be accepted. The provision of capacity of legal entity, with its management and statute. The claimants argue that this legal definition
Art. 10, Para. 1 embraces the denomination, the governing body and the person who represent it as well contravenes to Art. 6, 13 and Art. 37, Para. 2 of the Constitution, as well to Art. 9 of ECHR. According
the functions of the Patriarch as governor of the Sofia diocese. These violates the principles of freedom of to the claim this definition excludes the non-registered and the newly created religious communities. The
religions and separation of the religious institution from the state (Art. 13, Para. 1 and 2 of the Constitu- term restricts the right of free choice of religion and legitimates only the registered communities.
tion). They are autonomous and independent from the state deciding the matters of their self-government The Constitutional Court found the claim not grounded on this item. The Law on Religions defines
such as the questions of denomination, of their seat, of the religious faith, the religious practice, structure, “religion”, “religious community” and “religious institution” only for the purposes of the act and restricts
governing bodies, their constitution and representation. The decision of the Constitutional Court is to the use of them. Thus the definition “religious institution” is not relevant for the term in the Constitution.
this effect, as formulated in Decision Nr. 5 of 11 June 1992 (Constitutional case No. 11/1992): “The state The regulation of the conditions for registration of the religious communities as legal entities ensures ac-
through its bodies and institutions cannot intervene and menage the internal organizational life of the cess of all communities. The individuals associated with a religious community can choose if they want
religious communities and institutions. This is a matter of regulation by their statutes and other internal to create a religious institution. Thus, there are equal legal conditions for the creation of religious institu-
rules of the organization”. The case-law of the European Court on Human Rights is also to this effect. In tions, as well a choice of their creation.
some of the cases it has stated that in a dispute among the religious communities and the state institutions
the state cannot intervene between the disputing parties and make decisions, but it must ensure tolerance The fourth contested provision is § 3 of the Transitional and Final Provisions: “Persons who have seceded
between the disputing parties, as the role of the state is not to eliminate the ground for the tension sup- from the registered religious institution in violation of its statute, cannot use an identical name and use
pressing pluralism, but to guarantee the alternativeness between the disputing groups. (The Decision of or manage its property”. This secession must have been introdiced before the entry into force of the Law.
20 October 2000 in the Case Hassan and Chaush v. Bulgaria40, the decision in the case Serif v. Greece41, The Constitutional Court underlined that this disposition is not relevant to the religious denominations.
the decision of 12 December 2001 in the case of the Bassarabian Metropolite Church v. Moldova42). It regulates property relations, makes them subject to one general principle, governing all legal entities
Article 10, Para. 1 reiterates the dispositions of the Statute of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The Stat- – the prohibition to dispose of the property of others. The property disputes are always between specific
ute is an act of the religion. It can be modified when necessary, adopting another decision on the matter persons and for specific objects. The provision is general in character and regulates property relations gen-
regulated by the statute. The Law regulation on these questions excludes such modifications, that will be erally, for all the denominations. Thus, the claim is not grounded and must be rejected.
contravene to the law. Thus, due to the state intervention there is no possibility for the modification in the The claim is not grounded also in regard of Art. 9, Para. 1 and 2 of ECHR and Art. 18 of ICCPR. The
statute on any matter, that must be regulated exactly by the statute, which is a restriction on the freedom above analyses shows that the mentioned provisions do not concern the right of free choice and practice
of religious faiths and the autonomy of the religious in stitutions, in accordance with Art. 13 Para. 1 and of religion. There are not separate arguments for contradiction with the international agreements due to
2 of the Constitution. the absence of a separate object of discussion in this matter.
Pursuant to Art. 10, Para. 2 the Bulgarian Orthodox Church is a legal entity. Its structure and manage- Some of the Judges43 had a dissenting opinion and found the claim well-grounded in this item. They stated
ment are established by its statute. The part of the text proclaiming the Bulgarian Orthodox Church for that the prohibition of using an identical name and the use or management of the property by the seceded
legal entity contravenes to Art. 6 of the Constitution. The acquisition of this status by law is allowed only individuals excludes the use and disposal of the property of the religious institution by these individuals.
to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. The other religious denominations can acquire the same status under This contravenes to Art. 13, Para. 1 and 2 and Art. 37, Para. 1 of the Constitution.
the conditions and according to the procedures in Art. 14 – 20 of the Law on Religions, through registra- The use and disposal of the religious institution’s property belongs to the institution. This matter is de-
tion by the Sofia Municipal Court pursuant Chapter 46 of the Code of Civil Procedures. The different rived from the internal competence. The questions related to property are part of the internal matter and
must be resolved without the interference of the state. The same arguments are evoked for the contradic-
tion with Art. 9 of ECHR and Art. 18 of ICCPR.
40 Hassan and Chaush v. Bulgaria, No. 30985/96.
41 Sherif v. Greece, No. 38178/97.
42 Bassarabian Metropolite Church v. Moldova, No. 45701/99. 43 Dimitar Gochev, Nedelcho Beronov, Stefanka Stoyanova, Margarita Zlatareva, Vassil Gozev and Liudmil Neikov.

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and not by the Sofia Municipal Court. In January 2005, the Supreme Court of Cassation upheld the rul-
The last contested provision was § 4 of the Transitional and Final Provisions: (1) Upon a request from a ing. The Supreme Court ruling combined with the March ruling of the Sofia Municipal Court effectively
registered religion, the director of the Directorate “Religions” in the Council of Ministers issued a certificate restored the pre-1997 Supreme Islamic Council, headed by Nedim Gendzhev, as the legal representative of
concerning the succession of the religions and existing religious, educational-religious, and social welfare the Muslims in the country. However, following the Supreme Court’s January 2005 ruling, the Supreme
legal entities before 1949. (2) The representatives of the respective religion introduced the claim into Sofia Cassation Prosecution confiscated the case files, which prevented their being transferred to the Sofia City
Municipal Court for the establishment of the succession by submitting the certificate of the Director of Court and thereby delayed Gendzhev’s registration of the new leadership. In May 2005 the prosecution
Directorate “Religions” under paragraph 1. (3) The Court delivered a decision, which was incorporated in turned the case file over to the Sofia Municipal Court for 24 hours, allowing the Sofia Municipal Court
the register in accordance with Article 18. (4) The decision could be appealed by other registered religions in to pass the five rulings affecting the leadership dispute. Gendzhev immediately appealed the registration
accordance with the Civil Procedures Code. of Mustafa Alish Hadji, and the appeal was pending for the Prosecution’s release of the case files. By deci-
This provision regulates the procedure for succession between registered denomination and existing re- sion of the Supreme Administrative Court form 8 of February 2008 the election of Mustafa Alish Hadji
ligious, educational-religious and social welfare legal entities in the period before 1949. The claimants at the conference hold in 2005 was declared null and avoid. The Sofia City Court has convoked ex officio
argued that issuing the certificate the director of the Directorate “Religions” in the Council of Ministers a new Muslim conference after receiving a list with 1000 names. This represents an infringement of the
violated the principle of division of the authority and the secularization. Muslim’ s rules according Ashim Hadji Hassan from the Supreme Muslim Council46.
The Constitutional Court found the claim not grounded in this item. The certificate is not the only
required document for the succession. It is only a prerequisite of the procedure. The claim must be intro-
duced before the Sofia Municipal Court. It passes a final decision on the succession. Thus, the issuing of
the certificate does not represent an interference of the state in the activities of the religious institutions
Cultural rights
and does not violate Art. 13, Para. 3 of the Constitution on the secularization.
The basic provisions on the cultural rights of the individuals, belonging to minorities are set in the Consti-
tution of the Republic of Bulgaria. Article 54 stipulates: “Everyone shall have the right to avail himself of
There is no contradiction with Art. 9 ECHR and Art. 18 ICCPR either. In its final decision the Consti-
the national and universal human cultural values and to develop his/her own culture in accordance with
tutional Court rejects the claim as a whole.
his/her ethnic self-identification, which shall be recognized and guaranteed by the law”.
This rule is implemented by the Law on the Protection and Development of the Culture (LPDC)47.
The Law proclaims in Art. 2 the fundamental principles and priorities of the national cultural policy, as
Implementation of the religious rights and freedoms44 well the cultural organizations and the agencies for the protection of culture. The main principles of the
national cultural policy related to the rights of the minorities are:
The situation in the leadership of the Muslim religion in Bulgaria still continues to be complicated. There
are disputes within the Bulgarian Muslim community, especially on the officially registered Chief Mufti.
• Democracy, freedom of the artistic work and non-admission of censorship
One of the groups in this religious denomination: Fikri Sali Hassan lodged a complaint before the ECHR
• Decentralization of the management and the financing of the cultural activities
in 199645. The dispute broke out as a result of the 2003 election of two different chief muftis by bodies
• Equal treatment of the artists and the cultural organizations
which both claimed to represent the Muslim community. One of the 2003 conferences elected Fikri Sali
• Preservation and enrichment of the cultural-historical heritage, protection of the Bulgarian literary
as a new Chief Mufti to replace Selim Mehmed. Sali formerly held the position from 1992 – 1994. The
language, traditions and customs
other conference was convened by another former Chief Mufti, Nedim Gendzhev, and selected Ali Hadji
• Protection of the national cultural identity and the culture of the Bulgarian communities abroad
Saduk to replace Mehmed. Both conferences submitted documentation to the Sofia Municipal Court list-
• Promotion and stimulation of the cultural diversity, keeping the unity of the national culture.
ing their respective candidates as a new Chief Mufti. A registration controversy ensued, leaving no legally
recognized successor to Mehmed.
Institutionally an important function is given to the public-expert councils and commissions. They are
On March 8, 2004, two Sofia Municipal Court rulings annulled the 1997 and 2000 conferences of the
supporting the Ministry of the Culture and the National Center’s agencies constituted by the representa-
Muslim denomination, thereby invalidating the leadership elected by each of the conferences. On 19 July
tives of the art unions, the competent agencies and organizations, as well by individual artists, individuals
2004, the Sofia Municipal Court appointed Fikri Sali, Ridvan Kadiov and Osman Osmailov as interim
and experts. They may give expert opinions in cases of doubt if some works of art and culture offend the
representatives of the Muslim community pending the settlement of some civil court cases related to the
good morals, openly predicate violence, pornography, racial, religious and national intolerance or endan-
leadership dispute. On 5 November 2005, the Sofia Appellate Court overruled the appointment of the
ger the development of the new generation (Art. 16, Para. 1 and 2).
triumvirate, stating that the Muslim community leadership could be appointed only on its own initiative
The municipalities draft and realize their own policy for protection and promotion of culture, combining
the principles of the national cultural policy with the local conditions and traditions (Art. 18, Para. 1).
44 See more detailed in Ilieva, Irena, Legal regulation of the religious rights and freedoms in Bulgaria, I nLiberta di conscienza e diver-
sita di apartenenza relogioasa nell’Est Europa, Richerche de iritto comparative, A gura di Giovanni Cimbalo e Federica Botti, Bononia
University Press, 2008, p.77 – 101. 46 “Sega”, 24 April 2008.
45 Hassan et Tchaouch c. Bulgarie, No. 30985/96. 47 State Gazette No. 50 of 1 June 1999, last amend. SG, No. 74 of 15 September 2009.

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The municipal expert councils support the realization of the cultural policy. They must be guided by the • contribute to the mutual understanding and tolerance in the relations among the people
same principle of combining the national cultural policy with the local conditions and traditions. • provide citizens with an opportunity to get acquainted with the official position of the state on
The matter of financing culture is decentralized. Nevertheless the Law for the Protection and Develop- important issues, related to social life.
ment of Culture regulates the creation of the National Fund Culture: a legal entity with account outside
the state budget with a seat in Sofia. The Fund is appointed to support the development of culture by col- While carrying on their activities, the radio and television broadcasters shall be guided by the following
lecting, managing and spending resources for the cultural policy. In accordance with Art. 31, Para. 2, p. principles:
6 of LPDC the financial resources are spent for programmes and projects for the protection the freedom • guarantee the right to freedom of expression
of cultural activities of the citizens, including the ethnic, religious and linguistic communities. Item 10 • guarantee the right to information
ensures the same financing for programmes and projects for the protection and promotion of the culture • preservation of the secret of the source of information
of the Bulgarian communities abroad. • protection of he citizens’ personal inviolability
The Law on Radio and TV guarantees the protection of the national interests, the universal cultural val- • non-admission of broadcasts inciting intolerance among citizens
ues, the national culture of all Bulgarian citizens without discrimination of their ethnic origin. • non-admission of broadcasts contradictory to the good morals, especially if they contain pornog-
The Bulgarian national radio and national TV assist the promotion of the Bulgarian culture and lan- raphy, vaunting or abating cruelty or violence, or instigate hatred on the basis of race, sex, religion
guage, as well the culture and the language of the citizens in accordance with their ethnic origin. or nationality
The right of their own cultural institutions for the individuals, belonging to the minorities is guaranteed • guarantee the right of reply
under the general right of association. The associations of citizens shall serve to meet and protect their • guarantee copyright and related rights in the broadcasts and programmes
interests. This right is also subject to some conditions, laid down in the Constitution of Bulgaria. Citizens’ • preservation of the purity of the Bulgarian language (Art. 10).
associations, including the trade unions, shall not pursue any political objectives, nor shall they try engage
in any political activity which is in the domain of the political parties (Art. 12 of the Constitution). The LRT implements consistently the principle of the official Bulgarian language proclaimed in the Con-
The Law on Community Centers48 specifies this right for the communities. Pursuant to Art. 2, Para. stitution. According to Art. 12, Para. 1 “The programmes of the radio and television broadcasters shall
1: “Community centers are traditional self-governing Bulgarian cultural-educational associations in the be broadcast in the official language, in accordance with the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria”.
communities, which perform also national cultural-educational missions. In their activities all individuals Article 12, Para. 2 contains the right of information in their mother tongue for the individuals, belonging
can take part regardless of their age and sex, political and religious views and ethnic self-consciousness.” to minorities in Bulgaria. The programmes of the radio and television broadcasters may be transmitted in
another language where:
• they are transmitted for educational purposes
Right of information in the mother tongue • they are intended for Bulgarian nationals whose mother language is not Bulgarian
• they are intended for listeners and viewers from abroad
The right of information in the mother tongue is implemented by the Law on Radio and Television • foreign radio and television programmes are re-transmitted.
(LRT)49. The main principle of the broadcasting policy of the public radio and television is to ensure the
protection of the national interests, the universal cultural values, of the national science, of education and It seams important to point out that this right is widely formulated and includes educational programmes
of the culture of all Bulgarian nationals, regardless of their ethnic origin (Art. 6, Para. 3 LRT). Pursu- and retransmissions of foreign radio and television programmes in addition to the special programmes in
ant to Article 7 of the LRT the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) and the Bulgarian National Television the minorities’ languages.
(BNT) shall be the national public radio broadcaster and the national public television broadcaster, re- The LRT stipulates also guarantees for the content of the programmes. According to Art. 17, Para. 1 radio
spectively, which shall: and television broadcasters shall be liable for the content of the programmes they provide for broadcasting.
• ensure programmes for all nationals of the Republic of Bulgaria Radio and television broadcasters must not allow the production or provision for transmission of broad-
• assist the development and popularisation of the Bulgarian culture and of the Bulgarian language, casts in contravention of the principles laid down in Art. 10 and of broadcasts inciting national, political,
as well as of the culture and language of the citizens in accordance with their ethnic origin ethnic, religious and racial intolerance, praising or excusing cruelty or violence, or aimed at prejudicing
• ensure through their programmes access to the national and European cultural heritage the physical, mental and moral development of children and minors (Art. 17, Para. 2). A special norm is
• include in their programmes broadcasts which inform, educate or entertain devoted to the programmes in the mother tongue: the Bulgarian National Radio and the Bulgarian Na-
• apply the new information technologies tional Television shall produce national and regional programmes; programmes intended for broadcast-
• reflect the different ideas and convictions in the society ing abroad, including those for Bulgarians abroad; programmes intended for Bulgarian nationals whose
mother language is not Bulgarian, including programmes in their own language (Art. 49, Para. 1).

The LRT prohibit explicitly the broadcasting of advertisements containing pornography or inciting iolence
48 Promulgated - State Gazette (SG), No.89 of 22 October 1996, last amended - SG, No. 74 of 15 September 2009.
49 State Gazette No, 138 of 24 November 1998, last amend. No. 42 of 5 June 2009. and disrespect to human dignity, as well as behaviour which violates the public order and the generally

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accepted moral norms. The media shall not be allowed to broadcast advertisements with erotic content provision related to nursery schools for children with poor command of the Bulgarian language. The right
with the participation of minors or intended for minors (Art. 76, Para. 1). They shall not be allowed to of name according the family, ethnic and religious tradition; the cultural rights; the right of information
broadcast advertisements based on national, ethnic, religious, racial, sex or other discrimination (Art. 76, in the mother tongue, as well as the new regulation of the religious rights and freedoms complete the list
Para. 2). The LRT guarantees also the right of information on radio and TV for the orthodox and other of internationally recognized rights of individuals, belonging to minorities. The lack of legal definition of
religious denominations (Art. 1, Para. 1). “minority” in Bulgaria does not impede the enjoyment the fundamental rights and freedoms for all Bul-
garian citizens. The individuals, belonging to minorities have a large range of rights an freedoms: political
rights, the right to identity, the right to learn and use their own language, the right to use and develop
their culture, the freedom to practice their own religion, other specific rights. The Bulgarian legal system
Some conclusions embraces the concept of ethnicity as broader as nationality, thus granting wider protection to the indi-
viduals, belonging to minorities. Thus a general conclusion on the compatibility of the Bulgarian system
Our national legislation lacks both a clear conception on the protection of individuals, belonging to mi- for protection of individuals, belonging to minorities with the international obligations can be made.
norities, and a legal definition for them. The Constitution uses the qualification “citizens whose mother
tongue is not Bulgarian” (Art. 36, Para. 2), but mention is also made of the “ethnic self-identification”
characteristics (Art. 54, Para. 1). It is considered that the general anti-discrimination provisions that list
characteristics such as nationality, race, colour, ethnic origin, etc. present a general guarantee for the pro-
tection of these persons against discrimination. The equality principle conditions, therefore, the lack of
any special provisions concerning the demographic problems of minority related persons. The provisions
on the minorities’ rights in the domestic legislation are a relatively large number, but they are dispersed
and sometimes not consequently terminologically formulated.

The study the legislation in force demonstrates that the Bulgarian system for the protection of individu-
als, belonging to minorities can be defined on two levels: the first is the principle of equality and non-
discrimination; the second represents a large range of specific rights for the preservation and protection
of the minorities’ identity. The Law on Protection from Discrimination substantially contributes to the
formulation of the Bulgarian legislator’s conception on the protection of individuals belonging to minor-
ity groups. This progress is established at two levels – terminological and normative. Attempts have been
made by the legislator to level the terminology of the law with the general internationally-applied legal
arrangement of the rights for minority related individuals. The expression “persons belonging to ethnic,
religious or language minorities” has come into use, and it corresponds to the terminology in Art. 27 of
the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

This provision is the only norm in a universal international legislative contract dedicated to the protection
of persons from minority groups. Along these lines, I believe the law materializes harmonization of the
national jurisdictional legislation and the international jurisdictional standards in the field of protection
of minority-belonging individuals. Unfortunately, this terminology was not consistently used in the law,
which, in a strictu sensu interpretation would disadvantage the protection of these individuals against
discrimination in the future. An important contribution of the Law on Protection from Discrimination is
the expressed confirmation of the “positive discrimination” regarding the individuals belonging to minor-
ity groups. There are explicitly stated provisions of the “positive discrimination” type for minority related
individuals contained in Art. 7, Para. 1: measures in the field of religious rights and freedoms, religious
education, in employment and working conditions, in preserving the identity and culture, in education
and training. What is more the legislation regulates a wide scope of special rights for these persons.

The right to learn the mother tongue and the right to conduct school training in the mother tongue are
established in the National Education Act. A norm of the “positive discrimination” type is included in the

124 125

Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism and xenophobia

in Germany

Editors: CGIL - Bildungswerk

Introduction................................................................................................................................ 128
The general legal framework........................................................................................................ 131
Reference constitutional provisions.............................................................................................. 131
Specific legislation....................................................................................................................... 132
Criminal Law provisions............................................................................................................. 134
Civil and Administrative Law...................................................................................................... 135
News and case history................................................................................................................. 139


Foreword An outline of migrations to Germany

This report summarizes the results of a research carried out in Germany, and it aims at providing as In order for the analysis of the research subject to be as exhaustive as possible, a brief historical and so-
exhaustive an overview as possible of its subject topic. The research was based on definitions of racism, ciological summary of immigration to Germany is required. The associated patterns differ from those of
xenophobia, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism shared among the partners to the project; the research also other Western European countries, thereby driving the historical and cultural analysis of the two groups
involved the comparison and the analysis of a data set acquired through a common synoptic reference and studied in the reported research; this holds particularly true for the Muslim community, as well as for the
several informal interviews (for which a partially structured questionnaire was adopted). The interviewees difficult social and cultural processes of the past fifteen years, which gave rise to new immigration and
were selected among young Jews and Muslims belonging to a university milieu and to youth associations integration laws inevitably intertwined with the fight against discrimination.
of Frankfurt, Offenbach and their surroundings. The acquired information was compared with data pro-
vided by Bahadir Aksit (the Muslim representative within the project, as well as a lecturer in Turkish at Starting in the 1950s with the economic boom of the post-war years, German production relied on mi-
the University of Mainz and a teacher of German to worshippers at the local mosque) and by Alexander grant workers, also known as Gastarbeiter. Though most of them went back to their home countries in
Itskov (the Jewish representative within the project and the chairman of the BJSD Association of Jewish Southern and South-Eastern Europe, many (mostly from Turkey) stayed in Germany, living and working
Students in Germany), and is summarized in the various paragraphs of this report. there, thereby slowly changing it from a temporary immigration country to a controlled immigration one.
A second, large group of immigrants is made up by the so-called Aussiedler, i.e. people of German roots
(including thousands of Jews) whose families had lived for many generations in the former Soviet Union
countries, in Rumania and in Poland, and who went back to Germany after the demise of the communist
Introduction systems.

At the beginning of 2002, the European Monitoring Centre (EUMC) on Racism and Xenophobia was From 1961 to 1973, Turkish employment agencies registered with the Federal Employment Bureau (Bfa,
put on alert by reports of anti-Semitic activities in some of its Member States, as well as by news it received Bundesanstalt fur Arbeit ) directed towards Europe over 790,000 workers, out of which 80.2% to West
from the European Jewish Congress. The EUMC instructed the European Information Network on Rac- Germany (this share peaked at 84.3% in 1971):
ism and Xenophobia (RAXEN) to monitor aggressions, attacks and anti-Semitic behaviours in its Mem-
Country Women % Men % Total %
ber States, with a special focus on the time span between 15 May and 15 June 2002. The national reports
highlighted a clear increase of anti-Semitic activities, starting with the Middle-East conflict escalation Federal German 135.575 91 480.252 75 615.827 78
of 2002 and peaking in the spring of 2002. More specifically, some instances of anti-Semitic leafleting, France 172 0 33.720 5 33.892 4
mailings and abusive telephone calls were reported in Germany; political discussions involved the cultural
Austria 2.622 2 27.905 4 30.527 4
and political elites and focused mainly on the relationship between anti-Semitism and Israel’s policy in
Middle-East. Some commentators also discussed the possible impact of the mass-media, whose reports Netherland 2.700 2 27.391 4 30.091 4

on the situation the Middle-East were accused of focusing on violent actions and of being only partially Australia 2.710 2 17.619 3 20.329 3
free of anti-Semitic clichés. Switzerland 2.710 2 17.000 3 19.710 3
In order to define a common course of action against discrimination, the following recommendations
Belgium 220 0 13.809 2 14.029 2
were issued: any initiatives should include a set of joint activities not to be limited to the social environ-
ment; at the political level, such actions should be based on objective data and information about the Denmark 210 0 6.040 1 6.250 1

phenomenon in point; society should mobilize to establish a dialogue; the mass media should be invited Sweden 1.922 1 3.139 1 5.061 0
to report on ethnic and cultural groups in a fair way. Preventive measures against racist assaults should be Great Britain 131 0 1.880 0 2.011 0
enacted on the occasion of major sports events. Member States were also advised to set up the necessary
Others 117 0 8.627 1 8.744 1
provisions to monitor and prosecute racist actions, to share their experiences within a common strategy,
to ensure faster processing and publication of the associated data, to define sharp boundaries for attacks, Total 149.089 100 63.738 100 786.471 100

threats and abusive statements and to adopt clear rules and procedures for recording and prosecuting any Table. 1 - Turkish workforce breakdown by gender and country of destination (31 December 1973)
crime of anti-Semitic nature.
While the actions taken to this end by the European Union are definitely important, a lot still needs to be
done at the practical level in Germany; this will be discussed in the following paragraphs.
 For further study, see L. Zuccolo, Leggi e immigrazione in Germania Ovest. Il caso turco (1961-75) (Laws and immigration in West
Germany. The Turkish case (1961-75), «Storicamente», 4 (2008),
 From N. Abadan-Unat, Turkish migration to Europe, 1960-1975: a balance sheet of achievements and failures, in Id. (editors), Turkish
workers in Europe 1960-1975, a socio-economic reappraisal, E.J. Brill, Leiden, 1976, 7.
 See the EUMC national report of 2003.

128 129
Though at the outset this flow was mostly made up by skilled or partially skilled young men, various fac- is now easier to become German citizens by lawful means, immigrants and Germans are in closer con-
tors favoured female emigration later on, i.e. at the time of the recession of 1966, namely the high rates of tact, and acceptance of the many cultural ethnicities has risen. Furthermore, the new Immigration Law
Turkish worker layoffs and unemployment, the increase of waiting times for job seekers in Germany, and (AGG) gave rise for the first time to a set of provisions taking into account all the issues associated with
eventually the large wave of Turkish repatriations. The percentage of migrant women shot up from 8% to migrations. As it will be more clearly illustrated further on, however, the Immigration Law turns out to
24.4%, de facto ending the first phase of Turkish migration. be weak in many areas associated to civil rights areas, and in particular as far as access to jobs and hous-
ing is concerned.
Starting in the 1960s, but mostly during the 1970s and the 1980s, the German industry gradually ex-
panded and made a transition to standardized and automated work and production systems, thereby in-
creasing the number of unskilled workers employed by German companies. The more and more pressing
demand of unskilled blue collars was a highly powerful driver of Turkish manpower migration to West
Germany; this trend was also reinforced by the high unemployment levels then prevailing in Turkey, but The general legal framework
it further lowered work sustainability for the immigrants reaching West Germany.
In the past, Germany was often criticized for encouraging religious intolerance, in full breach of its re-
As far as their protection is concerned, Turkish migrants to the Federal Republic of Germany were pro- sponsibilities as a Member State of OSCE. In 1997, the Center for Human Rights of the University of
tected, on paper at least, by the provisions of the Bilateral Agreement (1961-64), by EEC regulations and Essex, in Great Britain, issued an OSCE-endorsed report warning that “in Germany, democracy is being
by German laws, which are based on the “principle of absolute equal treatment”, i.e. on the “equal pay used as an ideology to impose conformity”. One of the report editors stated that German government
for like work” clause. The equal pay condition, however, was never complied with. Turkish workers were officials were “turning a liberal constitution into an ideological tool for intolerance”. Similar reports were
actually employed in areas where there were nearly no German workers; to all practical ends, immigrants later issued by the United Nations Committee for Human Rights, by the State Department of the United
ended up being stuck on the lowest rung of the social and employment ladder. The situation was worsened, States and by other worldwide organizations.
on the one hand, by the poor or nonexistent knowledge of West Germany welfare laws, and even more by
the safety at work regulations, which markedly lowered the attention and prudence levels, thereby allow- In 2000, the European Community laid the foundations for its own legislation against discrimination
ing employers to assign immigrants exhausting, demeaning, ‘dirty’, unhealthy and unsafe tasks. by issuing two major pieces of regulation, namely Directives 2000/43 and 2000/78. The former deals
with the implementation of the principle of equal treatment regardless of race and ethnic origin, thereby
On the other hand, enforcing territoriality laws and Aliens Acts was difficult, which gave entrepreneurs protecting people living within the EU against discrimination arising from such factors. The latter defines
further advantages. Indeed, the territoriality principle extended legal rights to all citizens and foreigners a general framework to fight any employment and work condition discriminations based on religion,
living within a recognized state. For the immigrants, though, it was only a theoretical provision: as they personal opinions, handicaps, age or sexual orientation. Gender equality is protected both by a provision
were not residents of Germany, they got no health care, no insurance coverage for accidents at work and dating back to the EC Treaty, and by several autonomous Directives issued starting from the 1970s.
no unemployment benefits. It was also very difficult to draw any pensions accrued abroad, as retirement
age was set at 55 years in Turkey, but around 63-67 in Germany. Finally, Turkish workers also got limited The German juridical framework turns out to consist of a set of civil, administrative and criminal laws
support for child rearing, in particular for children living in Turkey, as very limited welfare funding was aimed at fighting racism mainly; the first law dealing specifically with discrimination dates back to 14
available to that end. Integration problems didn’t stem from the territoriality principle limitations alone, August 2006 only, and it was issued to transpose Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000.
but also from the Aliens Acts, which the government used to control and direct the workforce flows by
granting and cancelling work and stay permits at its own total discretion, if not arbitrarily. EEC policies □ Enclosure 1 - Overview - General summary DE
could not protect Turkish migrants to Germany either: since 1957, the European Community had actu-
ally granted the citizens of its Member States the right to free circulation, for employment reasons as well.
Such laws, which were followed by Regulation 1612/68 of 1968 and by the Schengen treaty of 1985, were
mainly a burden on non-European migrants.
Reference constitutional provisions
As there was no real European job market, immigrants were denied all civil and social rights, including
the right to mobility. In the past two decades, some progress has been made in immigrant integration: it
The principle of equality before the law is contained in Sect. 3 of the German Basic Law, which reads:
All human beings are equal before the law. Men and women have equal rights. The State promotes the
actual implementation of equality of men and women and acts to eliminate any existing conditions of
 Mediterranean and Southern European worker migrations to Germany after World Was II can be divided into three phases, namely:
1) 1955 - 1960, the Italian phase after the first bilateral agreement of 1955; 2) 1960 - 1966, with a boom of bilateral agreements, foremost disadvantage. Nobody shall be discriminated or favoured on the ground of gender, birth conditions, race,
among them those with Spain and Turkey; 3) 1967 - 1973, when German economy boomed again after the recession of 1966, and the language, nationality, origin, faith, religious beliefs or political opinions.
number of immigrants started growing more and more. Within this general framework, Turkish migration is concentrated in the two
latter phases only, and more specifically from 1963 and 1973, when migration to Germany stopped for a while due to the oil shock.

130 131
In all relationships between the State and its citizens, men and women alike, all the areas of public life are principle of equal treatment of men and women as regards access to employment, vocational training and
bound to abide by the principles of parity and equality granted by the constitution. promotion, and working conditions, and Directive 2004/113/EC of 13 December 2004 implementing
the principle of equal treatment of men and women in the access to and supply of goods and services.
□ Enclosure 1 - Overview - Constitutional Law DE
The law of 14 August 2006 implements these four Directives into the German legal system, and requires
that the State extend such protection to the employment and professional sectors as well. Its main element
is the introduction, in Sect. 1, of a new general law concerning equal treatment (Allgemeines Gleichbe-
Länder-specific constitutions handlungsgesetz – AGG, usually known as Anti-discrimination Law), whose main aim is to prevent or
Each German Land is entitled to its own constitution; such constitutions must reflect the republican, remove any disadvantage associated to a person’s race, ethnic origin, gender, religion, philosophical opin-
democratic, social and constitutional principles contained in Sect. 28 of the German Basic Law, but may ions, disabilities, age or sexual identity. In part one (out of six), the AGG defines its scope (work, social
contain different provisions on discrimination and racism. The constitutions of some Länder, such as protection, welfare, education and civil law), as well as some forms of direct and indirect discrimination,
those of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Lower Saxony, generally make reference to the respect for human of molestation and sexual harassment along the European Directive guidelines. Part two contains a set o
rights enshrined in the provisions of the Basic Law; other Länder (Hesse, Saxony, Saarland, Brandenburg provisions concerning any labour law aimed at protecting workers. In principle, the law confirms a general
and Bavaria) make reference to Sect. 3 of the Basic Law and forbid any discriminations on the ground prohibition of discrimination (Benachteiligungsverbot), though with a few exceptions, i.e. instances when
of race, language, origin and so on. In the constitution of Thüringen, the word “race” has been replaced a differentiated treatment is permissible. Employer obligations and employee rights are then described.
by “ethnic appurtenance” (ethnische Zugehörigkeit), which was deemed less racist. In Brandenburg, the The cornerstone of this part of the law, however, lies in the provisions concerning the indemnifications
unlawful discrimination criteria were broadened to include nationality and language. The constitution or compensatory damages employers must pay if they violate such discrimination prohibition. As far as
of Schleswig-Holstein guarantees cultural independence and political participation to ethnic minorities, jurisdictional protection is concerned, Sect. 23 of part 4 foresees the possibility to also use the support
which are protected by the State, the municipalities and the districts. The constitutions of Berlin and Ba- of “anti-discrimination associations” (Antidiskriminierungsverbände) authorized to defend the aggrieved
varia forbid instigating racial hatred, nationalistic displays or any displays exalting nazism and religious party in those proceedings for which the law does not foresee the presence of a lawyer. In the fight against
hatred. The constitution of Berlin also includes a provision, aimed at Nazism, dealing with people who at- discrimination, quite a major role is assigned to the Federal Anti-discrimination Office (Antidiskrimin-
tack or damage basic rights with actions which are Nazi in nature or pursue war or totalitarian goals. Such ierungsstelle des Bundes) that Sect. 25 of the AGG sets up under the Federal Ministry of the Family, the
people are stripped of their political and civil rights, as well as of their freedom of association. Finally, the Elders, Women and Youth. All federal authorities and government offices are required to provide informa-
constitution of Brandenburg forbids any public discriminations violating human dignity. tion to that Office, which can be contacted by whoever believes he/she was discriminated because of one
of the reasons mentioned by the law.

The Federal Office offers consulting and mediation services to informally settle any disputes submitted
to its attention and arising from the infringement of the non discrimination principle. The Federal Of-
Specific legislation fice is also required to carry out scientific surveys and to provide the Bundestag four-yearly reports with
appropriate recommendations for discrimination prevention or actions aimed at eliminating existing dis-
After lengthy and heated political discussions, and long after the deadlines defined by the EU, in the criminations. In performing all these functions, and particularly in carrying out its dialogue with social
summer of 2006 Germany passed the Gesetz zur Umsetzung europäischer Richtlinien zur Verwirklic- groups and organizations fighting discrimination, the Federal Office is managed by a committee (Beirat),
hung des Grundsatzes der Gleichbehandlung Act of 14 August 2006 (transposing some European Direc- per Sect. 30 of the law, of at most 16 members, half of them men and half of them women. Finally, Sect.
tives concerning the implementation of the principle of equal treatment). The four directives in point 2 of the transposing law introduces into the German legal system another law with a similar content, but
are Directive 2000/43/EC of 29 June 2000, implementing the principle of equal treatment regardless specifically aimed at protecting the principle of equal treatment of men and women in the armed forces
of race and ethnic origin, Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000, defining a general framework (Gesetz über die Gleichbehandlung der Soldatinnen und Soldaten – SoldGG). Sect. 17 of this latter law
towards the equal treatment as regards employment and working conditions, Directive 2002/73/EC of extends to the military, too, the implementation of the provisions contained in part 6 of the AGG con-
23 September 2002, amending Directive Council Directive 76/207/EEC on the implementation of the cerning the Federal Anti-discrimination Office tasks and functions.
According to some observers, the AGG has some problematic areas. Indeed, its civil law rule prevent-
ing discriminatory actions does not mention personal opinions; it also explicitly omits protection from
dismissal, contrary to the EU Directive guidelines. Mahlmann believes that implementing the right to
 Directive 2000/43/EC was to be transposed by 19 July 2003, while Directive 2000/78/EC by 2 December 2003. In its National Re-
port of 2003, EUMC wrote: “The new German residence law (‘Zuwanderungsgesetz’) was supposed to take effect on 01 January 2003.
However, the law has been rejected by the Federal Constitutional Court for formal reasons on 12 August 2002. The Federal Government
re-introduced the bill, unchanged, into parliament in January 2003. It was passed by the ‘Bundestag’ on 08 May 2003, but rejected by the  In November 2006, a law containing several amendments to the AGG was passed; these amendments highlight that the AGG offers
‘Bundesrat’ on 20 June 2003 and has, therefore, not come into force (source: no protection against dismissal or discrimination based on personal opinions (Germany/Allgemeines Gleichbehandlungsgesetz, BGBl.
,6812/Zuwanderung.htm on 18 August 2003). Part 1 , No. 39, pp. 1897-1910).  Beate Rudolf, Matthias Mahlmann (Hrsg.): Gleichbehandlungsrecht. Handbuch Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft (Baden-Baden) 2006.

132 133
equal treatment gives rise to some problems. Sect. 2, Point 1, Para. 8 of the AGG, for instance, forbids any The use of Nazi symbols and salutes evoking those used by the Third Reich is also a criminal offence, even
discriminations in accessing/purchasing goods and services available to the public, but no final clarifica- if they are camouflaged by means of modifications. Fast-track proceedings have been made considerably
tion has been provided about what exactly is included in “goods and services available to the public”. easier, punishments for personal injuries have been made harsher, the duration of police detention has
been extended for alleged criminals caught in flagrant crime, and, finally, the use of Intelligence Services
The most obvious interpretation of this provision is that it refers to all the goods and services available to (Bnd) against international criminal gangs has been authorized.
an unspecified number of individuals. Mahlmann also underscored that the protection against justified
unequal treatment is of the utmost importance, as does the protection against unjustified discriminations. In 1998, other relevant amendments to the Criminal Law were adopted. These are indirectly tied to the
According to Mahlmann, justification is crucial in order to determine the extent of the protection against fight against racism and neo-Nazi attacks against foreigners in Germany. The amendments were intro-
discrimination. If a feature such as the colour of his skin is a basic, crucial professional requirement for an duced within the framework of the Sechstes Gesetz zur Reform des Strafrechts, which foresees substan-
actor starring as US President Barack Obama in a movie, then unequal treatment is justified. The AGG tially harsher criminal punishments for the offences entailing physical or moral damage to foreigners, and
also allows for other justifications. In some instances, unequal treatment is allowed also in the provisions in general make any attacks against their physical and moral integrity punishable.
for promoting disadvantaged people. In order to protect them, the AGG foresees a simplified burden of
proof (Sect. 22), whereby if the party which feels discriminated provides evidence pointing at some dis- □ Enclosure 1 - Overview - Criminal Law DE
crimination, the burden of proof is then on the other party.

The AGG also authorizes anti-discrimination organizations to provide legal counsel to the less well-to-do In April 2009, then Minister of Interior Wolfgang Schaeuble banned a youth organization headquartered
during trials. As these laws are still new, no official statistical data are available to assess their effectiveness, in Kiel, namely Heimattreue Deutsche Jugend (Hdj), i.e. German Youth Faithful to their Homeland, on
as well as the Federal Office effectiveness, in day-to-day practice. the suspicion that it spread racial hatred among young and very young people by teaching even six year
old children that Jews and foreigners threaten the “German nation”; the group did so by distributing
brochures and educational publications aimed at children and dealing with subjects such as the “purity
of blood” and the “threat Jews and foreigners pose to the survival of the German people”. In the past,
the group had also had contacts with some skinheads in Alto Adige. Hdj was officially interested in en-
Criminal Law provisions vironmental issues and in local community problems, but according to the authorities its main goal was
spreading “Nazism and a racist ideology” among the youngest and the most vulnerable.
The German criminal law contains a complex set of rules mainly aimed at fighting racist displays: Art.
130 sanctions the incitement to racial hatred harshly, while Art. 185 and the subsequent ones aim at
protecting individuals belonging to ethnic minorities from attacks or verbal abuse. Finally, a set of rules
aims at fighting any revival of Nazism. It is worth underscoring that some German Länder had already Civil and Administrative Law
adopted anti-racist measures in the early post-war years; on 13 March 1946, for instance, Bavaria passed
a law banning arrogance and racial hatred towards some segments of the population; a second law, dated
27 March 1952, forbids the use of symbols associated to banned organizations. Lower Saxony followed As discussed under An outline of migrations to Germany10, within the framework of federal-level civ-
suit just a little afterwards il and administrative regulations, a core element of the federal government integration policies is the
amendment of the law concerning the application for German citizenship, in force since 1 January 2000,
At the federal level, on the contrary, the first law was passed only in 1960, after a wave of Nazi hatred whereby the principle of ancestry is replaced by the principle of territoriality. Such measures make it easier
swept the country. The criminal law amendment thus enacted modifies Art. 130 (incitement to hatred to grant German nationality to children who are born in Germany of foreign parents, thus simplifying
and violence towards some segments of the population) and introduces a crime associated to the use of the naturalization process through the reduction of the period of residence needed to apply for citizen-
symbols of unconstitutional organizations (Art. 86) and to the defamation of tyranny or despotism vic- ship. The federal government integration policies also include the National Integration Plan (Nationaler
tims (Art. 189). Integrationsplan) of 2007, which is further discussed in the following paragraph.

In 1994, the Parliament approved the so-called law against the “Auschwitz Lie”, adopting harsher sen- □ Enclosure 1 - Overview - Civil and Administrative Law DE
tences against people denying or playing down the Jewish genocide carried out by the Third Reich; the
adopted measures include harsher punishments and faster proceedings against criminal or violent xeno-
phobic actions. Based on the new law, people denying or playing down in public or at a meeting the racial
 Criminal Law (STGB), Sect. 130 (‘incitement of people’), Sect. 86a (‘Use of symbols of anti-constitutional organisations’) and Sect.
policy of the Nazi dictatorship can be punished with imprisonment for up to three years or with a money 131 (‘glorification of violence’).
penalty (up to 1994, denying the Holocaust was a crime only if explicitly tied to the defamation of Jews).
10 Ibid., page 3.

134 135

The National Integration Plan man society. Up to 1991, German citizenship could be granted only though a discretionary procedure
based on a check of “public interest”, as in the case, for instance, of eminent scholars and famous artists
or sports people.
Despite being the European country with the highest share of residing immigrants, Germany refused to On 1 September 2008 Einbürgerungstest, a test administered to foreigners applying for German citizen-
acknowledge its role as a land of immigration for decades. This has long hampered the development of ship, came into force. The test drills applicants on subjects such as the juridical system (democratic values,
a process of integration and protection against the discrimination of foreigners living in the country. It principles of the rule of the law, of equality, of tolerance and of religious freedom) and German culture
is worth recalling a statement of 2008 by German ambassador to Italy Michael Steiner : “We Germans and history. In order to get the needed skills in the fields involved in the test, people can take courses.
have refused for too long to see our country as a land of immigration: we wanted manpower, but we often These are organized by charities as well, and aim at making their attendees familiar with the State and the
overlooked the fact that immigrants were people, men and women who wished to stay in our country society of their new country of residence, thereby trying to make their social involvement easier.
and live a decent life. Understanding all this was a very painful process, and it was marked by various As far as immigrants and ethnic minorities are concerned, national measures in the fields of employment
domestic policy conflicts”11. and social inclusion thus keep stressing the need for immigrants and ethnic minorities to adapt, mainly
through such integration initiatives as language courses. Although such initiatives are important, they
The process led to the first National Summit on Integration (Nationaler Integrationsgipfel) of German should be complemented by measures tackling potentially discriminating behaviours, attitudes and prac-
history, which was convened in Berlin on 14 July 2006 by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The Sum- tices by the majority of the citizens, which prevent immigrants from getting access to jobs, services or
mit gathered 86 representatives of political and administrative bodies, of various religions, of economic training regardless of their skills, experience and language proficiency.
organizations, of the trade unions, of several charities, of associations related to immigration; their goal
was to develop an action plan to tackle together the challenges of immigration. The summit had a major This point is worth expanding, as Muslims interviewees have repeatedly underscored that “in general, due
symbolic value for German political and cultural history, as it was the first step towards having Germany to their philosophical culture, from a psychological standpoint Germans don’t seem to be ready yet to ac-
acknowledge being a land of immigration. cept, encourage and help foreigners. Germans are still deeply scared by foreigners: they tolerate foreigners,
but don’t quite accept them. They do little to welcome foreigners and make them feel at ease; Germans
The Nationaler Integrationsgipfel summit produced the National Integration Plan (Nationaler Integra- expect foreigners to act as directed, and exclude, disparage and ignore those who don’t”.
tionsplan). To this end, 10 working groups were set up. These included German and non-German experts
belonging to different institutions, organizations, religions, professions and backgrounds. Each group Unfortunately, the German “National Integration Plan” doesn’t directly tackle such subjects as naturali-
tackled a different subject (ranging from education to employment, from information to sports, and from zation, voting rights and the fight against racism and discrimination. It is however worth underscoring
culture to charity work). The groups worked from October 2006 to March 2007, with the belief that eve- that the plan acknowledges for the first time the need for Germans to change their mindset, too: “inte-
ryone can and must contribute to make integration a success. The National Integration Plan specifically gration can’t be imposed; it is rather the outcome of the joint effort of the State and of a society made up
assigned a pivotal role to the financing of German language courses, as linguistic skills are a must for by people who may or may not be immigrants. The relevant point is that immigrants must be willing to
foreigner integration and economic success. The Plan also aims at providing foreigners with information accept our Constitution in full and to learn our language, thereby giving a clear signal of belonging to
about the political and social environment they live in, at improving integration courses, at guaranteeing the Nation (…) On the other hand, the receiving society must be welcoming and tolerant, display civil
good education and training, at increasing employment opportunities, at improving living conditions engagement and be willing to accept those who wish to live honestly within it”14.
for women and girls, at implementing equal opportunities, at directly supporting integration in the field,
at experiencing cultural diversity, at promoting integration through sports, at exploiting the diversity of As far as this subject is concerned, a significant event occurred in Cologne. On 20 September 2007, the
the media, at strengthening integration through civic engagement and fair participation, and at working “pro Koeln” (for Cologne) movement had organized a demonstration against the alleged Islamization
towards a science open to the world.  of the Western world. The movement mostly involved right-wing, xenophobic and anti-Islam populists,
who opposed the decision by the Municipality to allow the construction of a new mosque set to become
Some relevant amendments were concurrently introduced into the naturalization process. In 2000, the Germany’s largest. A peaceful counter-demonstration restricted the access to the square where speakers
German Citizenship and Nationality Act12 partially changed the associated criteria from ius sanguinis were to talk, and invited the people, the cab drivers and the owners of coffee shops, restaurants and hotels
(right of blood) to ius soli (law of ground), thereby allowing immigrants to apply for citizenship after 8 to provide no service to the participants. The passive resistance was arranged by Cologne mayor Fritz
years of residence in the country, instead of 15, as long as they met some requirements13. In 1991, a new Schramma (CDU) with the support of associations, churches and many people from all over Europe. It
naturalization law had for the first time lifted the ban on permanent integration of foreigners into Ger- managed to turn the anti-Islam gathering into a fiasco in the name of Cologne, a tolerant and multicul-
tural city where 180 ethnic groups and over 20 religions coexist.

12 Germany, BGBl. 1999 I, 1618 (15 July 1999)
13 Applicants must have an unlimited stay permit, show respect for the democratic principles stated in the German Basic Law and not be
involved in anti-constitutional activities. They must also have a clean criminal record, be able to support themselves and their dependant
family members without State assistance (unemployment benefits or support) and have an adequate knowledge of the German language. 14 National Integration Plan, page 13

136 137

Specific Conventions News and case history

Some agreements, such as the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM), The Sixth Report on the Status of Foreigners was published in Germany in July 2009. The report was
in force since 1998, and the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages (CRML), in force prepared by the Commissioner of the German Government Office for Emigration, Refugees and Integra-
since 1999, aim at recognizing Danish, Serbian, Frisian, Sinti and Roma minorities as traditional resi- tion. Statistical data show that Germany hosts fewer “foreigners” and more “immigrants” than in 2004.
dents of Germany, who live in their ancestral settlement areas and differ from most Germans because In recent years, naturalizations have increased and immigration has ebbed; people with passports of other
of their language, culture and history, and thereby have an identity of their own, which they want to nationalities dropped below the 6.7 million mark (8% of the total population), with 600,000 fewer for-
preserve. Danes, Serbian, Sinti and Roma are recognized as fully-fledged minorities, while Frisians are eigners than in the 1990s. These statistical data, however, do not provide a full description of the degree to
labelled a “fresh ethnic group” to indicate their own desire to be recognized as an ethnic group rather which the population is multicultural. Actually, 14 million people are of migratory origin: among them,
than as a national minority. The two above Conventions recognize specific minorities and are subject to 6.7 million are foreigners, 1.8 million naturalized, 4.5 million Aussiedler (immigrants of German ances-
the German Basic Law; being federal laws, they are superseding in case of conflict with Länder laws. No try coming from Eastern Europe, particularly from Russia) and 1.5 million are born to mixed couples.
specific laws define the rights of such minorities, except for the Declaration on the Rights of the Danish One in five marriages involves partners of different nationalities, one in four newborn babies has at least
Minority of 29 March 1955, which waives the requirement for the Association of South Schleswig Voters one parent of foreign origin. In some urban areas, the children of immigrant families account for 40%
(Südschleswigsche Wählerverband SSW), unlike the other parties, to achieve a 5% share at the ballot in of the younger generation. According to another interesting figure, immigrants nowadays come from a
order to be represented in Parliament. The Danes also manage kindergarten and schools of their own. broader range of countries, so that a greater diversity of lifestyles, cultures and religions needs to be ad-
Rhineland-Palatinate was the first political body to grant formal protection to the Sinti and Roma mi- dressed.
nority language and the culture. It did so by means of a covenant signed in July 2005, whereby the Land
has undertaken to protect Sinti and Roma languages, to provide them financial support and to teach the Emigration Commissioner Maria Böhmer claims that immigration policy can no longer be thought of as
history of these nomadic groups, including Nazi persecutions. a set of measures supporting migrants or minorities, and even less can it be limited to the mere promo-
tion of proficiency in German or to a limited support to immigrant adjustment. It must be a social policy
Coming back to the groups which are the subject matter of this research, on 27 January 2003 the Central taking into account a much more diverse population in all fields. All institutions, e.g. schools, offices,
Council of Jews in Germany (Zentralrat der Juden in Deutschland, ZdJ) and the German Government hospitals and retirement homes, as well as the job market, need to adopt an intercultural approach. Hav-
signed a financial agreement which came into force on 6 June of the same year, after a law to that purpose ing now become hubs of a global network, the major cities, in particular, need to set up action projects
was passed. Besides being aimed at granting and increasing the funding available to the ZdJ, the agree- so that their districts become areas of integration, and not of segregation. Compared to other countries’
ment is of paramount importance because it formally acknowledges the importance of preserving and systems, the German education system was particularly criticized because it displays a sharper selection of
fostering the Jewish lifestyle in Germany. its pupils based not so much on their skills but on their social status. Young (mostly foreigner) people from
poorer families don’t have the same opportunities as other youth: as they achieve lower degrees, they face
The document preamble underscores the historical responsibilities of German people for the Jewish life- greater difficulties later on in the job market as well. Education is the key to the future of integration. In
style renaissance, and the need to foster friendly relationships with the individual communities. The her report, the Commissioner underscored that integration is based on the principles of the Constitution,
agreement then defines a principle of coordination for the activities aimed at taking care of the common on the Rule of the Law, on the dignity of all human beings, on the equality of men and women, as well
interests of the Federal Government and the ZdJ through a body open to all trends of Hebraism. This as on freedom of religion and opinion.
clarification is aimed at including about 10,000 Jews who are not registered at orthodox Jewish communi-
ties, and in particular the roughly 1,500 members of the Union of Progressive Jews in Germany. During Another report, this time issued by the Ministry for Integration, actually paints a puzzling picture of the
the agreement negotiations, the latter stated they didn’t feel represented by the ZdJ, which the German social status of foreigners living in Germany. Immigrants turn out to be extensively discriminated, espe-
Government considered as the single representative of all German Jews. cially as far as employment is concerned. They are twice as likely to lose their jobs compared to “indige-
The second article of the agreement defines the yearly contribution the German Government must pay nous” workers. The situation is worrying on the educational front, too. A full 40% of immigrants have no
the ZdJ (currently 5 million Euro a year). In exchange for this State subsidy, the Central Council of Jews degree, but this figure reaches 73% for Turks, who make up the largest group. This situation has several
in Germany has undertaken not to ask for further funding, except as needed for the integration of Jews root causes, and politicians are slowly trying to take action, as discussed in the previous paragraphs (na-
coming from the former USSR and for Jewish cemeteries (Art. 6), as well as the voluntary contributions tional Integration Plan etc.). In Germany, Muslims are definitely subject to social, economic and religious
foreseen for the College of Jewish Studies and the Central Archive for the Study of Jewish-German discriminations of various kinds. Islamophobia started spreading due to the developments that followed
History, both at Heidelberg (Art. 5). With this agreement, the German Government acknowledges the the 11 September 2001 events, as well as to the state of anxiety and fear that has taken hold in western
pivotal role of ZdJ and the importance of its activities for German democracy as a whole. Up to 2003, societies concerning the possible spread of extremist attitudes among Muslim youth. Based on a survey
formal agreements only involved individual regional Jewish communities and the Governments of indi- of 2006, 70% of Germans think that being practising Muslims is incompatible with living in a modern
vidual Länder. Up to the time the agreement was ratified, the sums provided to the ZdJ by the Federal society. A study (of 2004) by the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine highlighted anti-Islam at-
Government were just donations. titudes; the study claimed that in the West the ideas most frequently associated to the word “Islam” are

138 139
“women oppression” (93% level) and “terrorism” (83% level). A further piece of research highlights that criminations according to the definitions contained in the Directives concerning the equal treatment
55% of Germans think Islam and Christianity can not coexist, and clashes will continue. Within unified irrespective of race (2000/43/EC) and in employment (2000/78/EC), Turkish surnames prevent people
Germany, anti-Semitism, both declared and subliminal, is also on the rise. from getting jobs or renting apartments. Foreigners often pay higher rents for smaller apartments com-
In the years after 1989, anti-Semitic attacks have significantly increased, with several instances of cem- pared to Germans. There is thus a pressure towards concentration in specific districts of cities, which
etery desecration, physical attacks and anti-Semitic leafleting, as well as abusive letters and phone calls. clearly contributes to the creation of ghettoes. Jewish interviewees have confirmed that in most cases they
The attitude of the mass media turned out to be very critical, too: a survey of the higher quality German make no reference to their religious denomination while at work, maybe unconsciously trying to avoid a
press15 concluded that journalist coverage focused heavily on the attacks and was fraught with anti-Se- potential risk. Some Muslim women have declared that being veiled on the pictures they had enclosed to
mitic clichés. their resumes (a compulsory practice for job seekers in Germany) has prevented them from getting a job
On 9 November 2003, a terrorist attack was foiled at the last minute in Munich; it had been planned
for the laying of the first stone of the new Jewish Community Centre. As highlighted by all EUMC Unfortunately, gathering data on individual discriminations is not easy, because there are wide variations
reports16, Jews are well integrated from the social, economic and cultural viewpoints; they are seen as both in the tolerance levels and in the related practices within the German Länder themselves. Though
an influential group at both the national and the international level, so that they are assumed to have a some cases do confirm that firing female employees for wearing their veils is illegal19, the courts of Stutt-
relevant influence on the economic and political agendas, as well as on the mass media. As far as the kind gart and of another Bavarian town passed emblematic sentences on this subject. The courts were decid-
of allegations levelled against them, being perceived as Nazi victims makes Jews the targets of choice of ing about whether teachers should be allowed to wear their veils while on their workplaces. The court
all revisionists/refuters/deniers and right-wing extremists, who turn to Nazi symbols in order to set up a of Stuttgart ruled that there is no ground to prevent Muslim teachers from wearing their veils on their
specific reference to the persecution of Jews by the Nazis. A further issue worth underscoring, as it was workplaces, as in Baden-Württemberg nuns are allowed to wear their monastic clothing while they teach.
repeatedly taken up by our privileged witnesses, is that German Jews are closely associated with Israel and The court also ruled that such attitude violates Sect. 3 of the German Basic Law, as well as the European
its policy. One could almost say that German Jews have become hostages of Israel’s policy, and associated Convention on Human Rights20.
to it. Therefore, they are often criticized and judged, or accused, in connection with the developments of
the Palestinian problem. Consequently, various anti-Semitic ideas creep up on private and public talks, In full contrast with this, a Bavarian court banned teachers from wearing their veils while on their work-
and are often picked up and criticized by society, politicians and the press. places, while it allowed nuns to wear their clothing. The ban was enacted by the Social Democrat admin-
istration of the Land, and has been in force since 2005. It was justified by claiming that a veiled teacher
can not credibly teach or embody the national goals, particularly as far as equal opportunities among men
and women21 are concerned.

Case history The most significant research ever carried out in Germany about discrimination on the workplace shows
that young, second-generation Turkish people are the most affected group. Many young interviewee claim
In the reports on racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance17 it published in May 2009, the that human resource managers make their decisions based not so much on applicant skills and experi-
European Commission against Racism and Intolerance ((ECRI)18 stated that the adoption of the law on ence, but rather on cultural stereotypes and prejudices towards Turkish migrants (who are considered not
equality of treatment (AGG) has reinforced the juridical and institutional framework for the fight against ambitious, male chauvinists and unable to work in teams). Many interviewees also claim that managers
racism and discrimination; there are now signs of a more active dialogue with the Muslim community, want to avoid the economic and social impacts arising from the (alleged) conflicts between customers and
and the authorities have started emphasizing integration in order to support the full involvement of im- Turkish workers or among Turkish and German colleagues. As far as the latter point is concerned, one
migrants in German society. Racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic attacks are still reported, however, has unfortunately to acknowledge that some employees have openly displayed contempt for their Turkish
together with an increasing support for parties with a racist, anti-Semitic and revisionist stance. Racist colleagues or resentment against them22.
attack victims are most often asylum seekers. Some members of the Muslim, Turkish, African, Roma and
Sinti communities moreover state to be facing discriminations of some kind in their daily lives.
19 See N. Nathwani, «Islamic Headscarves and Human Rights: A Critical Analysis of the Relevant Case Law of the European Court of
Human Rights», Netherlands Quarterly of Human Rights, vol. 25, n. 2, 2007, pages 221-254.
Special emphasis is placed on discrimination in education, employment and housing. In many cases, 20 Germany/Verwaltungsgericht Stuttgart (2007) press release, Stuttgart/VerwG/18 K 3562/05 (7 July 2006). The State Minister for
which the interviewees define as instances of “latent discrimination”, and which qualify as direct dis- Education announced legal steps against the ruling of the administrative court in Stuttgart (FR 12 July 2006, p. 4). On 28 February 2007,
the Higher Administrative Court of Baden-Württemberg allowed an appeal by the State of Baden-Württemberg against the ruling of the
administrative court in Stuttgart. Press release of the Higher Administrative Court of Baden-Württemberg (06 March 2007), available at
de/servlet/PB/menu/1205757/index.html?ROOT=1153033 (26 May 2007)
15 See the associated EUMC National Report of 2003. 21 Bayern/Verwaltungsgerichtshof/Vf. 11 -VII-05 (15 January 2007),
16 See the associated National Reports of 2000-2008. asp?subchannel_id=52&story_id=35553)
17 22 N. Gestring, A. Janßen, A. Polat (2006) Prozesse der Integration und Ausgrenzung. Türkische Migranten der zweiten Generation,
18 Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, pages 1 35-193)

140 141
In 2006, Deutsche Bank, Daimler Chrysler, Deutsche BP and Deutsche Telekom signed a Diversity
Turks are subject to both individual and institutional discriminations23. Housing is a worrying field, as Charter whereby they undertook to promote diversity and a multicultural environment both within and
foreign surnames prevent people from renting apartments. A survey carried out in Cologne in 2006 on outside their operations and outside them, as well as to invite other companies to join the initiative26.
a sample made up by 209 individuals (homeowners, real estate agents, supervisors etc.)24, showed that Following a suggestion by one of its Muslim employees, Commerzbank of Frankfurt am Main set up
all foreign nationalities get lower consideration than German nationality, with widely different ratings a “room of silence” Muslim employees can use for their prayers. Within the framework of its diversity
among the various nationalities25. The researchers also found that decisions are based more on a combina- policy, Deutsche Bank is also setting up some “religion rooms” for its employees of any religious denomi-
tion of nationality and poor language proficiency than on seeker social status. nation.

A case which occurred in Aachen in 2007 provides an example of institutional discrimination of foreign The State Commissioner of Berlin for Integration and Migration has launched a campaign aimed at invit-
home seekers: a German family of African origin was about to move to town, and was given an address ing immigrants to apply for jobs in the civil service (administration, police and fire brigade); brochures in
by the Municipal Office for Housing. Once on the premises, the building manager told them that “the six different languages (Polish, Arabic, Vietnamese, Turkish, Russian and German) were mailed to young
owner doesn’t rent Africans any apartments”. Although the discrimination was clear, the Office for Equal immigrants and their parents, and an Internet site was set up27. The brochures underscore that applicants
Opportunities of the City of Aachen sent a second black person to the same address. Once again, the need not hold a German passport and that speaking a foreign language is a bonus. In 2006, the police of
manager stated that “the owner doesn’t rent Africans any apartments”. The couple sued, but the court Berlin have cooperated with the Turkish Council to organize training programs for migrants28, and have
turned down their allegations because they should have denounced the apartment owner, not the man- carried out a very successful media and advertising campaign29 aimed at encouraging young migrants,
ager, which was impossible as the owner’s name was unknown and the manager was not bound to reveal especially those of Turkish, Serbian-Croatian, Arab, Polish and Russian mother language, to enrol in a
it. One can thus conclude that the case in point was a clear violation of the anti-discrimination law. training program with the police30.
As already pointed out, the Jewish interviewees state they tend not to declare their religious denomina-
tion while at work, possibly in order to avoid potential discriminations. They also underscore that they Once again in Berlin, within the framework of the BQF Federal Support Program 15 young immigrant
often feel discriminated because of their Eastern European origin, rather than because of their religion. women aged between 16 and 23 have taken a five-month course to prepare themselves to apply for training
In 2005, heated political discussions arose after German authorities unveiled plans to drastically stem in the civil and administrative services. Once enrolled in a training program, they have been supported
the inflow of Jewish immigrants from Russia and other former Soviet Union countries. The immigrants for further 23 months, and their tutors have kept on coaching them by offering them courses on intercul-
were accused of avoiding registration at the Jewish communities, of shunning all integration initiatives, of tural skills. Indeed, besides increasing the share of workers with a migratory background within the civil
refusing to learn German and of lying heavily on social security once in the country. This put heavy strain service, the project aimed at helping to create an intercultural awareness within the service itself31.
on the relationship between the German Jewish community and the federal government; tensions were The Minister of Education of Northern Rhineland - Westphalia, host to one third of all international stu-
later defused with some difficulty, but they did prove the existence of a set of prejudices against people dents, has set up a “network of teachers with an immigration background” in order to make them better
coming from the former Soviet Union. Some statements by the interviewees may be a reaction against known to the public, while at the same time stimulating the enrolment at teacher training schools among
such prejudices; indeed, they underscored that German Jewish families assign upper and academic educa- young people with similar backgrounds who are about to get their high school degrees; schools have been
tion the importance of a must for their children. invited to encourage applications by teachers with a migrant background”32.
Initiatives supporting the fight against discrimination
Several forums on Islam (“Islam Forums”) have been set up in Germany with the explicit goal to reduce
the prejudices against, and the fears raised by, the Muslim community, as well as to encourage critical
discussions among the representatives of Muslim organizations and those of the rest of society. These
forums have been set up by some NGOs, and have no official status.

After the National Integration Plan was approved, various initiatives were started both at the Land and at
the municipality level, as well as by private institutions; such initiatives are aimed at fostering integration
and at fighting discrimination.
26 The initiative is coordinated by the Federal Commissioner for Emigration, Refugees and Integration.
27 (11 October 2006).
28 People who have completed a specific training for young migrants are not required to meet some formal requirements, such as the
23 N. Gestring, A. Janßen, A. Polat (2006) Prozesse der Integration und Ausgrenzung. Türkische Migranten der zweiten Generation, achieved school degree.
Wiesbaden: VS-Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften 29 (26 May 2007)
24 C. Kowalski et al. (2006) Die Wohnungssuche als Alltagsproblem von Menschen nicht-deutscher Herkunft? Eine empirische Unter- 30 (26 May 2007)
suchung am Beispiel Köln, available at: (02 October 31 (11 November 2006);
2006) w&id=592 (11 October 2006)
25 Nationality doesn’t seem to play a decisive role for the Japanese, while for Russians homeowners and realtors it is one of the more 32 Nordrhein-Westfalen Ministry for Generations, Families, Women and Integration (2006) Land der neuen Integrationschancen
decisive factors, even over income. – Aktionsplan Integration, available at: pdf (26 May 2007)

142 143

Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and other kinds of Discrimination

in Italy

Editor: Società Ricerca e Formazione

Introduction....................................................................................................................................... 147
The general legal framework............................................................................................................... 148
Reference constitutional provisions..................................................................................................... 150
Specific legislation...............................................................................................................................151
Criminal Law provisions.....................................................................................................................152
Civil and Administrative Law............................................................................................................. 154
News and case history........................................................................................................................ 156

 Last updated in November 2009.

144 145

Foreword The answers provided by the interviewees were subsequently compared, and their contents were summa-
rized in the various chapters of this report, so that they could be easier to use for the readers.

In order to systematically collect the European and Italian basic regulations aimed at combating racism,
xenophobia, Islamophobia and anti-Semitism, two major surveying tools were used, namely:

1. an overview, which was shared with the other partners to the project and has allowed the informa- Introduction
tion to be arranged by topic;
2. a partially structured questionnaire, which has helped developing the descriptive parts contained in In March 2003, a research report commissioned by the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and
the overview. Xenophobia (EUMC) pointed out an increase of anti-Semitic criminal offences and verbal attacks against
Jewish citizens and institutions, as well as against Muslims; the report also indicated the need to under-
In order to set the overview up, the decision was taken to follow a chart first developed in 2004 (on the take some common actions which should not be limited to some social areas, but should include a broad
occasion of a survey of the legal provisions adopted by the member States to fight racism and discrimina- range of integrated activities. At the political level, such actions ought to be based on objective data and
tions carried out) by the Council of Europe; the chart was updated with the major novelties of the past information about the phenomenon in point; civil society ought to rally round some forms of dialogue;
five years. the press, the media and the Internet ought to report on ethnic and cultural groups in a balanced way,
The questionnaire, on the other hand, includes nine open questions, and has been administered to some while on the occasion of major sports events racist attack prevention measures ought to be adopted.
experienced jurists (e.g., in Italy, Florence University professor Chiara Favilli, lawyer Daniela Consoli from In some member States, racist attacks are not accounted for separately in crime statistics, while other
Florence, jurist Alessandro Maiorca from Turin, Dr. Walter Citti from Trieste and lawyer Marco Ferrero States use government-funded tools to monitor and prosecute anti-Semitic actions. The same report thus
from Padua) during remotely-held interviews. The full text of the questions is provided herebelow. recommended that common legal strategies be developed, whereby governments with greater experience
in the field would share it; that faster data processing and publication be guaranteed in those countries
where racist and anti-Semitic actions were already recorded as such by the security authorities, in order for
such data to be presented, as a rule, within the second quarter of the following year; that reports clearly
1. Are there any territorial-level bodies in charge of collecting reports on cases of racism, anti-
distinguish violent attacks, threats and abusive statements from each other; and, finally, that governments
Semitism and xenophobia?
adopted clear rules and procedures for recording and prosecuting crimes associated to some anti-Semitic
2. Are these non-government bodies? rationale.
3. Are they at the [ ] national [ ] regional [ ]municipal level?
More than five years later, it is fair to state that the European Union has made significant steps forward,
4. Are these bodies specialised, or do they deal with discriminations and/or physical attacks? at least at the formal level, towards the achievement of such goals (the Charter of Fundamental Rights of
5. Are there any relevant judiciary cases worth pointing out? If so, and if possible, please state their the European Union, which was adopted in Nice in December 2000, will soon become binding); as will
conclusions (sentence, acquittal, etc.), stating if compensation was foreseen and awarded for any be explained later on, however, this is unfortunately not the case at the practical level. The discrepancy is
material damage suffered by the victims, as well as the area in which the case occurred, namely: quite evident if one compares the so-called European identity at the official and at the practical level: the
[ ] employment [ ] housing [ ] access to public services [ ] education [ ] other (please be specific) EU enlargement to the East and its concurrent closure to the South will bring about a major shift of its
social makeup (which can be summarized to the extreme as “more whites, fewer blacks”); this, however,
6. Are there any standard criteria to identify the root causes of the attacks/discriminations?
risks triggering a concurrent “molecular civil war”.
7. Do national or local (i.e. regional, district, etc.) regulations foresee any out-of-court mediation
options for racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism or discrimination cases?
8. Do the Jewish and/or Muslim communities enjoy any special legal protection?
9. Can you report any instances of institutional racism?

 See http://download.repubblica. pdf it/pdf/primo_antisemitismo.pdf  The expression was coined by Hans Magnus Enzensberger in his book Prospettive sulla guerra civile (Perspectives on civil war), Ein- audi, 1994.

146 147

The general legal framework 2. Civil society ought to have changed in order to establish a dialogue; in Italy, on the contrary, seri-
ous attacks keep being carried out against some groups, such as the Roma and the Sinti, as well
as the Muslims. Civil society is struggling to keep some dialogue open not only with the various
During his last visit to Italy, which took place between 9 and 13 October 2006, United Nations Special ethnic and cultural groups living in the country, but also with the State bodies themselves; indeed,
Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance the Rapporteur’s report stressed that “civil society denounced the following major obstacles: the
Doudou Diène collected extensive evidence of the same in our country, focusing in particular on the lack of a national action plan to combat racism, xenophobia and related intolerance; the need to im-
discriminations against immigrant workers, refugees and asylum seekers, Jewish and Muslim community prove the implementation of current anti-discrimination legislation by increasing the knowledge of
members, as well as the Roma and Sinti minorities. The report issued at the end of Mr. Diène’s mission judicial and law enforcement officials about existing legislation, as well as publicizing and inform-
underscores in the first place that Italy has formally equipped itself with nearly all the main international ing about the civil and criminal remedies available to victims of racial and ethnic discrimination;
legal tools aimed at a better protection of the basic human rights, since it has signed and confirmed six out the exploitation of racism by some political parties; the lack of electoral rights (active and passive)
of the seven international conventions concerned with this subject, including the optional protocols: preventing political parties from taking the interests of non-citizens fully into account [...]”.

International Convention Italy 3. The press, the TV networks and the Internet ought to have reported in a balanced way on ethnic
the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Yes, both and cultural groups; in Italy, on the contrary, many violations have occurred under this respect,
mainly against the above mentioned groups; consequently, the Special Rapporteur describes the
the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination Yes
situation by stating that “various journalists highlighted the critical role the media continues to
the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment Yes play in portraying a negative image of migrants and associating members of the Muslim faith
the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women Yes with crime, invasion, danger, extremism and terrorism. When crimes are committed by persons
the Convention on the Rights of the Child Yes
of foreign origin or belonging to the Roma or Sinti community, their nationality or ethnicity is
particularly emphasized. [...] Regarding the frequent equation of “migrant, Muslim, terrorist”, ex-
the International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of
Their Families
No amples were given of the reaction of some media after the London attacks, warning of the dangers
of having immigrants of the Islamic faith in Italy”.
The same report also highlights that the domestic legal framework is made up by a complex set of crimi-
nal, civil and administrative regulations aimed at fighting such phenomena. 4. On the occasion of major sport events, measures ought to have been taken to prevent racist at-
tacks; despite the coming into force of Law Decree No. 162 of 17 August 2005 (which was subse-
□ Enclosure 1 - Overview - General summary IT quently converted into Act No. 210 of 17 October 2005, containing further measures to combat
violence on the occasion of sport events) Italy still needs to make quite some progress towards
this goal, since according to the Rapporteur “given the increase in violence in sport, especially
The Special Rapporteur, however, also highlighted some critical issues in the implementation of such football, it is strongly recommended that Italy implement the FIFA guidelines with particular
regulations; these issues can mostly be seen as a “missed progress” or even as a step back from the recom- vigilance. The Government should also undertake a review of the regulations of the various fed-
mendations of 2003, which were contained in the quoted EUMC report, namely: erations to harmonize them with the provisions of article 2 of Law Decree 286/98 in order to
1. according to the EUMC, at the political level actions ought to have been based on objective data eliminate discrimination against legally resident non-EU children in sports”.
and information about the phenomena in point; in Italy, on the contrary, national-level investiga-
tions are carried out by the National Office for the Fight against Racial Discrimination (UNAR, 5. Racist and anti-Semitic events ought to have been recorded by security authorities, thereby ensur-
Ufficio Nazionale Antidiscriminazioni Razziali), which can’t be considered an independent body, ing their faster processing and publication; in Italy, on the contrary, a clear problem still exist in
so that the Special Rapporteur’s criticism is still well-founded. Indeed, the Rapporteur stated that this area, as further explained below.
“the Government should consider the establishment by law of an independent national institu-
tion for the promotion and protection of human rights in accordance with the Paris Principles 6. Research reports ought to have made a clear distinction among attacks, threats and abusive state-
and for combating all forms of discrimination in a holistic manner, including all grounds such as ments; in Italy this hardly occurs, if at all; furthermore, Act No. 85 of 2006, which introduces
race, ethnicity, nationality, sex, age, disability, sexual orientation and any other status. Pending “Amendments to the Criminal Law concerning Crimes of Opinion” has weakened the sanc-
the establishment of this institution, the Government should consider with urgency the need to tionative system foreseen for those responsible for those actions, thereby going against the EU
increase the level of independence and the human as well as financial resources of the National guidelines established in Council Framework Decision 2008/913/JHA of 28 November 2008,
Office for the Fight against Racial Discrimination”. on combating some forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia by means of criminal law.
According to a specific statement contained in the Special Rapporteur’s report, “the amendment
introduced in February 2006 by the previous Government to the Mancino law mitigated the

148 149
punishments attached to the foregoing offences by reducing the initial maximum term of 3 years’ Specific legislation
imprisonment to either a fine of 6,000 euros or 18 months’ imprisonment. The current Govern-
ment has informed the Special Rapporteur, however, that a proposal to restore the more severe
punishments is under examination. It has also removed the reservation introduced by the former Law 40/1998 was called a pilot regulation in the framework of anti-discrimination protection because
Government that impeded the adoption of a European Union (EU) Council framework decision its Part IV, Sections 41 and 42, contained provisions concerning the protection against discrimination
aiming at the introduction of criminal provisions common to all member States in relation to rac- events; these provisions were subsequently transferred, respectively, into Sections 43 and 44 of Legislative
ist and xenophobic offences”. Decree No. 286 of 25 July 1998 (Consolidated Text of the provisions concerning immigration regulations
and foreigner status rules). With these two Sections, the law-makers abandoned the traditional, purely
criminal approach to these matters, assigning racial discrimination a civil character (taken from the expe-
rience accrued in the field of protection against general discrimination); for the first time, this was done
in all areas, leaving behind the partial and incomplete protection system which for nearly thirty years had
Reference constitutional provisions been based on the labour protection provisions contained in Law No. 300 of 20 May 1970 (the so-called
Workers Charter). The anti-discrimination protection framework of the above Legislative Decree, which
The Italian Constitution states first and foremost the principle of equality of all citizens before the law, was not affected by the amendments concerning immigration which were introduced by Law No. 189
and it forbids any kind of discrimination, including the so-called “reverse” discrimination occurring when of 30 July 2002 (the so-called Bossi-Fini law), hands illegal migrants over to administrative discretion,
a person or a body belonging to the Community enjoys a more favourable treatment, due to some Com- thereby opening up a gap through which institutional discriminations can spread.
munity regulations, than granted under similar conditions to national citizens or bodies by the national The regulations transposing Community Directives No. 2000/43/EC and 2000/78/EC, and therefore
regulations. Indeed, section 2 “recognizes and grants the inviolable human rights to both individuals and Legislative Decrees No. 215/2003 and No. 216/2003, contained no provisions for repealing the pre-ex-
groups, and requires the fulfilment of the mandatory political, economical and social solidarity duties”; isting anti-discrimination provisions. On the contrary, they expressly upheld the pre-existing anti-dis-
section 3 states that “all citizens have equal social dignity and are equal before the law, with no distinc- crimination provisions contained in the organic regulations concerned with immigration (Section 43,
tion of sex, race, language, religion and political opinions, as well as of personal and social status”, thereby paragraphs 1 and 2 of Legislative Decree No. 286/98); they also added and superimposed to these provi-
assigning the State the task to “clear the economic and social hurdles which limit the freedom and the sions a further regulatory tool, thereby setting up an incoherent set of rules which gives rise to interpreta-
equality of all citizens at the practical level, thereby preventing the full development of human personal- tion issues concerning the overriding law (jus superveniens). All in all, depending on their features and
ity and the effective participation of all workers in the setting up of the political, economical and social dynamics, discriminatory behaviours may benefit from the legal cover offered by either text: if an action
organization of the country”. These principles have been confirmed by several Constitutional Court rul- displays a clear and manifest inequality of treatment against an individual who does not qualify for pro-
ings. Section 10 then defines a further basic principle, whereby “the Italian legal system complies with tection under some specific criteria, the interpreting body can turn to the directive-transposing rules; on
the generally recognized rules of international law”. the other hand, should the comparison element not be clearly usable, but the action in point belies a gen-
eral negative social value having to do with “destroying or jeopardizing the recognition, the enjoyment or
Among the basic liberties it grants, the Constitution mentions the freedom of religion (Sections 8 and 19): the exercise, in a status of equality, of human rights and of basic liberties”, the concept of discrimination
“all religious denominations are equally free before the law”; the denominations “other than the Catholic mentioned in the Consolidated Text could be referred to.
one have the right to set themselves up according to their own articles, as long as they are not in conflict
with the Italian legal system” and “their relations with the State are regulated by the law on the basis of Italy has therefore issued specific laws against discrimination basically owing to the transposition of Euro-
agreements with their representative bodies”. Finally, “every individual has the right to freely practice his/ pean legislation; furthermore, after several rulings and opinions by the European Court of Justice, which
her religious beliefs in any individual and associated form, to promote it and to worship in private and in stated the anti-discrimination protection level to be inadequate, Legislative Decree No. 59/2008 contain-
public, as long as the rituals are not in conflict with public decency”. ing Urgent provisions for the implementation of some European Community-mandated obligations and of
some rulings by the Court of Justice of the European Union, was turned into a Law (No. 101 of 2008), sub-
□ Enclosure 1 - Overview - Constitutional Law IT stantially raising the level of legal protection against discrimination. In particular, Law No. 101 of 2008:
- transposes the reversal of the burden of proof, stating that should the plaintiff provide factual ele-
ments (and thus no proof) suggesting some discriminatory behaviour, then it is up to the defend-
ant to prove that such behaviour was not discriminatory;
- further limits the exceptions to the basic prohibition to discriminate, thereby reversing the ratio
between the rule (general case) and the exception (specific case), especially in the case of Legisla-
tive Decree 216/2003;
 See W. Citti and A. Maiorca, Parità di trattamento e tutela giuridica dalle discriminazioni per motivi etnico-razziali o religiosi (Equal-
ity of treatment and legal protection from discriminations based on race, ethnicity o religion: http://www.leadernodiscriminazione. - further broadens the opportunities for the trade unions and other associations to represent or
it/modules/mydownloads/cache/files/19831854381584987352489498959429-working_paper_discriminazione.pdf replace the victims in court, once again especially in the case of Legislative Decree 216/2003.
 See Decisions 120 of 15 November 1967 and 104 of 19 June 1969, as well as Order 215 of 1 July 1983.

150 151
This Law, however, doesn’t fully eliminate the unevenness in the level of protection against the various In its Third Report on Italy, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance states that the
kinds of discrimination, since it offers greater protection against racial or ethnic ones: actually, while the Italian judiciary has returned just a few verdicts of guilty with racial motivation as an aggravating circum-
amended Legislative Decree No. 215 allows for the burden of proof to be reversed even based on simple stance for criminal offences, namely only three in 2001, four in 2002, two in 2003 and none in 200412.
factual elements deduced from statistical data, Legislative Decree No. 216 requires factual elements to be On the criminal side anti-discrimination protection, it is finally worth pointing out that Act No. 85 of 24
specifically applicable to the case under assessment, and not be general. This reduces the effectiveness of February 2006, introducing “Amendments to the Criminal Law concerning Crimes of Opinion”, amends
the protection afforded against discriminations based on religion, age, disability and sexual preferences. Act 205/1993 with such major changes as the possibility to replace the imprisonment with a fine and the
crime of incitement with the crime of instigation to carry out discriminatory actions. More specifically:
□ Enclosure 1 - Overview – Specific legislation IT - Section 13 amends Section 3, paragraph 1, of Act 654/75, as replaced by the so-called Mancino law,
thereby punishing “with up to a year and six months’ imprisonment, or with fines up to 6,000 euro, who-
ever promotes ideas based on racial or ethnic superiority or hatred, as well as whoever instigates others to
carry out discriminatory actions on racial, ethnic, national or religious grounds”;
- the amendment was approved by secret ballot; its wording allows the choice between imprisonment and
Criminal Law provisions a fine, while the so-called Mancino law envisaged imprisonment only;
- by replacing the crime of incitement with the crime of instigation to carry out discriminatory actions,
In Italy, the first legal provisions expressly aimed at restraining racist displays were contained in Act No. the new Act may make punishing criminal actions conditional on an ascertainment of their timing based
645 of 20 June 1952 (the so-called Scelba law), which implemented temporary provision XII of the Italian not only on the mere suitability of an idea to influence those who accept it, and to induce them to carry
Constitution; such provision generally forbade to re-organize the disbanded Fascist party, and it included out discriminatory actions, as in the case of incitement, but also on an investigation taking into account
into such activities the general concept of racist propaganda. In the criminal domain, national regula- further elements having more to do with the personal aims of the individual carrying out such actions.
tions were often introduced purely to implement international provisions concerning basic rights; such
provisions had been accepted by a majority of foreign Governments, thereby standardizing the principles □ Enclosure 1 - Overview – Criminal Law IT
and the rules the signatory states had implemented and made enforceable. By issuing Act 654/1975, Italy
merely implemented the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimi- According to conventional wisdom, criminal law can not be the priority instrument to combat discrimi-
nation, which had been signed in 1965; in order to protect the individuals and their social dignity, Act nations: indeed, the “weak” position of racist behaviour victims (who are often immigrants with no regu-
205/1993 has made perpetrating, or inciting to perpetrate, racial, ethnic, national or religious discrimina- lar permit to stay) often makes resorting to criminal law provisions very difficult and risky. Act 205/93
tion actions a criminal offence. Among its other novel features, Act 205/1993 mentions some supplemen- considers racist aims as an aggravating circumstance for some crimes (in which case it also explicitly
tary punishments, among which socially useful work stands out. This measure can be adopted without makes them indictable by the prosecutor office); all other discriminatory actions can be prosecuted as
the consent of the involved individual, so that “by removing the practical and visible consequences of crimes only if a personal plaint is filed. Since this is additional to the difficult task of proving the exist-
the discriminatory propaganda, the lawmaker clearly aims at providing some free support precisely to ence of malice in carrying out, or in inciting to carry out, a discriminatory action (malice is essential for
those groups which are the traditional targets of discrimination or hatred” of racial, ethnic or national an action to qualify as a crime), the criminal action victims most often give up reporting them for fear of
nature10. possible retaliations, or of summons for slander, by the defendants. It thus comes as no surprise that only
From the implementation viewpoint, and within the legal system, the National Office for the Fight so few racial discrimination verdicts were returned.
against Racial Discrimination (UNAR, Ufficio Nazionale Antidiscriminazioni Razziali) tends to set the
instances qualifying for punishment according to Act 205/1993 in the general context of such crimes as The nature of a far right group13 was considered relevant, for instance, in a case on which the Court of
slander, threat or private violence11. Cassation has provided its final ruling (Court of Cassation, Section I, ruling No. 341 of 28 February
2001; see Diritto, Immigrazione e Cittadinanza (Law, Immigration and Citizenship; 2002, 2). In the
previous, lower instance rulings concerned with the merits of the matter, some youth belonging to asso-
 See ciations whose aims include protecting whites and Arians, as well as preventing people belonging to other
 M. Poli, Le fonti internazionali del diritto in materia di contrasto alle discriminazioni razziali (International sources of legislation races from settling in Italy, had been sentenced for, among others, some of the crimes envisaged in Section
concerning the combat against racial discrimination), Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri (Office of the Prime Minister), Rome, 2005,
page 29.
10 See M. A. Garzia, La cornice normativa interna in materia di discriminazioni razziali ed etniche e ruolo dell’UNAR (The domestic
regulatory framework concerning racial and ethnic discriminations and the role of the UNAR), various authors, in Integrazione e non 12 Various authors, Terzo rapporto sull’Italia (Third Report on Italy), European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, Council
discriminazione. Panorama normativo e ruolo dell’UNAR (Integration and non-discrimination. Regulatory overview and the role of the of Europe, Strasbourg, 2006, pages 8-9; regarding the “obstructive attitude” of the Italian government concerning the agreement pro-
UNAR), Presidenza del Consiglio dei Ministri (Office of the Prime Minister), Rome, 2005, page 86. posal made in 2003 by the European Commission about the prohibition of collective and organized discriminatory behaviours against
11 Efficacia degli strumenti di tutela nel contrasto alle discriminazioni razziali e proposte di modifica della normativa vigente (Protec- non-European citizens, as well as against ethnic and religious minorities, see F. Vassallo Paleologo, Analytical Report on Legislation,
tion tool effectiveness in fighting racial discrimination, and proposed amendments to the regulations in force), National Office for the COSPE, Vienna, 2004, page 8, available on; the Italian government had
Fight against Racial Discrimination (UNAR, Ufficio Nazionale Antidiscriminazioni Razziali) report to the Italian Parliament on the already displayed this attitude on 20 May 2002, during the presentation of the Report on the proposed Council Framework Decision on
implementation of the equal treatment principle stated in Section 7, paragraph 2, point f) of Legislative Decree No. 215/2003, Ministero combating some forms and expressions of racism and xenophobia to the European Parliament.
per le Pari Opportunità (Ministry of Equal Opportunities), Rome, 2005. 13 W. Citti and A. Maiorca, ibid., page 22.

152 153
3 of Act 654/75 (these youth had publicly circulated ideas theorizing Arian race supremacy over Jewish the implementation of equal opportunity and non-discrimination principles in the workplace. They are
and coloured people, had incited others to carry out discriminatory actions against those races, and had also responsible for reporting to the judiciary any crimes they may become aware of.
promoted, managed and taken part in associations whose aims include racial discrimination), in Section 4 One further piece of legislation is worth mentioning, namely Legislative Decree No. 145 of 2005, which
of Act 645/52, containing provisions against the re-organization of the Fascist party (as they had publicly transposes Directive 2002/73/EC concerning the equality of, and equal opportunities for, male and fe-
extolled some representatives, principles, facts and methods of Fascism, as well as some racist ideas related male workers. This decree has broadened the scope of Section 1 of Act 903/77 by expressly prohibiting all
to it) and in Section 5 of Act 654/52 (since they had carried out demonstrations comparable to those of gender-based discriminations not only against salary workers, but also against self-the employed and all
the disbanded Fascist party). The rationale of the appeal submitted to the Court of Cassation is of the ut- the other workers. This amendment is particularly relevant, since it extends the ban against discrimina-
most importance to our study, since it had to do with the interpretation and the implementation, based on tion also to more recent job types (such as the various kinds of fixed-term employment contracts) which
Article 21 of the Italian Constitution as well, of the rules on racial discriminations contained in Section could hardly fit in the original framework of Act 903/77. The same Decree finally defines sex-related and
3 of Act 654/75, as amended by Act 205/93. After the youth had been sentenced in the first and second sexual harassments as discriminations, in line with the trend of Decrees 215 and 216 of 2003 (which are
instances, their lawyers claimed that the defendants had merely expressed their thoughts (albeit on such further analysed below).
subjects as race, racial differences and supremacy of one race over another) which, as such, were protected Law Decree No. 162 was also issued in 2005, while the Sports Justice Code was passed in 2006.
under Article 21 of the Constitution, granting all individuals the right to freely express their opinions in
speeches, written texts and any other means of circulation. Despite such submissions, however, the Court □ Enclosure 1 - Overview – Civil and Administrative Law IT
has reaffirmed that “the right to the free expression of thought granted by Article 21 of the Constitution
can not be extended to the point of justifying actions or behaviours which, though expressing personal As far as the two communities dealt with in this survey are concerned, the Italian Jewish community
opinions, are prejudicial to other constitutionally relevant principles and to the values protected by do- enjoys a set of specific protection measures arising mainly from the Memorandum of Understanding it
mestic and international legal systems”. has signed with the State (Act Mo. 101/1989), while the Muslim community hasn’t managed to obtain
an adequate level of legal recognition yet. In his report, which was mentioned at the beginning of this
The rules concerning racial discrimination were thus considered an implementation of the principle of chapter, the Special Rapporteur actually states that “four Islamic organizations have applied for Memo-
equality stated in Article 3 of the Constitution, whereby sacrificing the freedom of expression is some- randums of Understanding, though none has been approved so far.14In the views of various governmental
times not only tolerated, but actually justified. interlocutors, the lack of a centralized authority and a unitary approach by the different Islamic denomi-
national organizations has prevented the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding. Nevertheless, as
expressed by the Italian authorities, “it is possible for the Government to start the procedure for signing
different Memorandums of Understanding with Islamic denominational organizations, whereby each of
them would be representing its associates‑believers”.
Civil and Administrative Law
The disagreements among the various groups15 (namely the CO.RE.IS., the UMI, the UCOII, the AMI
In its original wording, Act No. 300 of 20 May 1970 (Rules concerning the protection of the freedom etc.) still look hard to settle: in March 2009, at the Gathering of the Grand Mosque of Rome16, conflict-
and dignity of workers, of the freedom to set up trade unions and carry out trade union activities in the ing statements were made. On the one hand it was announced that “a joint body of Italian Islam had been
workplace, as well as some rules on employment), the so-called Workers Charter, and in particular its Sec- created”, and that “all communities shared the desire to merge into the mosque of Rome”; on the other
tion 15, provided for any covenants or actions discriminating on trade union grounds to be void. Act No. hand, the CO.RE.IS positively denied such statements and it reaffirmed the wish that the Council for
903 of 1977 subsequently equated to such discriminatory behaviours also those discriminations based on Italian Islam quickly resume its activities, which had been started by Interior Minister Pisanu, had con-
political, religious, racial, language or sexual grounds. tinued under Interior Minister Amato and were at the time under the aegis of Interior Minister Maroni.
Finally, Legislative Decree 216/2003, implementing Directive 2000/78/EC, further prohibited any dis-
crimination based on disability, age, sexual preferences and personal opinion.
Act 125/1991 was issued after lengthy discussions, and it introduced the protection against indirect dis-
crimination as well. 14 In 1991, the Islamic Cultural Centre of Italy applied for a Memorandum of Understanding, which has not been granted because
its particular organizational structure includes diplomatic representatives of some Islamic countries. The Islamic Religious Community
From the viewpoint of procedural protection against discrimination, Act 125/1991 introduces the pos- of Italy (CO.RE.IS), which is made up by Muslim Italian citizens, applied in 1998 for a bilateral agreement, and to be recognized as a
juridical person. In 2001 the draft decree was submitted to the Council of State, which provided a positive assessment. The draft decree is
sibility for institutions to go to court, possibly after a conciliation attempt according to Section 410 of currently under review at the Ministry of the Interior for further improvements in some formal aspects. The Union of the Islamic Com-
Civil Procedural Law; the legal proceedings can be started by the equality advisors. These are institutional munities and Organizations in Italy (UCOII) represents some 30 Islamic centres. In 1992, it submitted an application without requesting
bodies created by Act No. 863/1984 and later regulated more systematically by subsequent lawmaking to be recognized as a juridical person, but no negotiations have been started. The Italian Muslim Association (AMI) was created in 1982
in Rome; in 1997, it applied for a Memorandum of Understanding without requesting to be recognized as a juridical person.
initiatives (up to Legislative Decree 196/2000, which governs in a systematic way their tasks and func- 15 See
tions); the advisors are appointed at all government levels, and are in charge of promoting and controlling 16 See the piece published by national-circulation newspaper La Stampa on 7 March 2009:

154 155

News and case history level is active all over Italy, and it takes care of collecting and assessing any discrimination reports filed
by individuals, offices or private bodies active at the social level. The monitoring level monitors discrimi-
nation in a systematic way by means of suitable surveying tools, and it sets up training a public opinion
awareness initiatives. The service current structure is comprised of several focal points who are active in
the country’s four major geographical areas, namely North, Centre, South and Isles. These field-level
Specialized equality and non-discrimination promotion bodies
focal points are managed through an agreement between the anti-discrimination office and a network
Even before the decree transposing European Directive 2000/43 was issued, the Consolidated Text on of NGOs led by the Christian Association of Italian Workers (ACLI, Associazioni Cristiane Lavoratori
immigration had already required regional governments to cooperate with provincial and municipal au- Italiani). The UNAR intervention strategy mainly relies on moral suasion and informal conciliation; this
thorities, as well as with non-profit organizations, to set up monitoring, information and legal aid centres strategy, however, has disproportionately restrained legal actions by discrimination victims, limiting their
for those foreigners who were victims of discriminations. Despite this, only a few Italian regions (e.g. potentially larger, more significant and longer lasting positive impact on Italian society.
Emilia Romagna, Friuli - Venezia Giulia, Liguria, and more recently Tuscany17) have issued regional Besides UNAR, further bodies are involved in the fight against discrimination, namely the Inter-ministe-
regulations aimed at implementing the principles and the privileges defined by the national laws, by mak- rial Committee on Human Rights (CIDU, Comitato Interministeriale per i Diritti Umani21), established
ing reference to the (abovementioned) Advisors for Equal Opportunities but also to the Ombudsman (in in 1978, and the Committee against Discrimination and Anti-Semitism22, established in 2004. The Ter-
Tuscany, the Ombudsman directly reports to the Regional Council). The region of Emilia Romagna has ritorial Councils for Immigration (Consigli territoriali per l’Immigrazione23) monitor and analyse dis-
created “nodes”, “counters” and “antennas”, thereby giving rise to a network of 144 field points18 which in crimination trends at the district level, and so does also the Islamic Council of Italy (Consiglio islamico
some instances (as in the town of Piacenza19) mostly operate through reconciliation and mediation, and d’Italia), which was established in 2005.
consider turning to the legal system (i.e. mainly to the Justices of the Peace) as a kind of last resort. Re- The Observatory on Contemporary Anti-Jewish Prejudice recently recorded24 some cases of discrimina-
gional laws (including Latium Region Law No. 10 of July 200820) often require that regional-level and/or tion against Jews, namely: “in 2008 the Observatory on Contemporary Anti-Jewish Prejudice25 recorded
provincial-level be created or enhanced in order to monitor discrimination cases. 22 cases of anti-Semitism; two related to property damage, 15 to graffiti and two publications. In Feb-
In practice, however, a national body specialized in promoting ethnic and racial equality, as well as in ruary 2008, the Jewish community of Rome informed the Police of a website with a ‘black list’ of 162
combating discriminations, was set up only after European Directive No. 2000/43 was transposed. More Jewish university professors accused of “lobbying in favour of Zionists”26. The website was immediately
specifically, the Legislative Decree implementing Section 13 of such Directive required that a special of- shut down and its owner was identified and prosecuted for violation of the law on personal data and
fice be created within the Department of Equal Opportunities (currently the Ministry of Equal Oppor- defamation with purposes of discrimination. In May 2008 a national survey27 found widespread negative
tunities), under the Office of the Prime Minister. This office is the already mentioned National Office for attitudes towards Jews with 23 per cent of the respondents stating that Jews cannot be considered “com-
the Fight against Racial Discrimination (UNAR, Ufficio Nazionale Antidiscriminazioni Razziali), whose pletely Italians”, 39 per cent stating that Jews have a “special relationship with money”, and 11 per cent
goals include the equality of treatment and the elimination of any discriminations based on race and eth- stating that “Jews lie about the Holocaust”.
nic origin, and whose duties include monitoring and guaranteeing that the principle of equal treatment is
implemented and that the protection instruments are operational.
The Prime Minister Decree of 11 December 2003 defines the way the UNAR is set up; the Decree
requires that the UNAR be staffed (20 members, including management, C and B level civil servants) Case history
with personnel coming from the Office of the Prime Minister and from other civil service areas. The As already anticipated, the Italian legal framework does not allow to easily distinguish the attacks, the
UNAR is also allowed to take on 10 more support personnel, i.e. lawyers, judges, State prosecutors and violence cases or the other behaviours jeopardizing personal safety in general from those which are spe-
other experts, who may not be civil servants. The UNAR activity guidelines are issued by the Ministry of cifically driven by racism and/or xenophobia. Under this respect, the recent murder28 of A. G., a 19 year
Equal Opportunities. In order to promote study, research, training and experience exchange activities, the
UNAR may cooperate with the associations and bodies registered at the Department of Equal Opportu-
nities under Section 6 of Legislative Decree 215/2003. In order to implement the contents and to fulfil the 21 See
requirements of the Prime Minister Decree dated 11 December 2003, the UNAR administrative office 22 See
has approved the specification needed to create and manage a call centre and a support service for the anti- mo.html
23 The Territorial Council for Immigration (Consiglio Territoriale per l’Immigrazione) is a collective body operating at district level, as
discrimination office; this is a two-tier service, with a reporting level and a monitoring level. The reporting provided by Section 57 of Presidential Decree No. 394/99 (implementation rules for the Consolidated text of the provisions concerning im-
migration control and Regulations concerning the condition of foreigners, issued by means of Legislative Decree No. 286 of 25 July 1998).
24 See Anti-Semitism - Summary overview of the situation in the European Union 2001-2008 (February 2009)
17 On 3 June 2009, Law Proposal No. 316 was approved; it contains Norme per l’accoglienza, l’integrazione partecipe e la tutela dei 25 See
cittadini stranieri in Toscana (Rules for the acceptance, the participatory integration and the protection of foreign citizens in Tuscany) 26 ‘Sul blog la ‘black list’ dei docenti ebrei. Il Viminale: “Faremo accertamenti”’ (The Ministry of Interior state “We’ll investigate” Jew- ish professor ‘black list’ on the Internet), published by national circulation newspaper La Repubblica (08 February 2008)
18 See 27 U. De Giovannangeli, ‘Ebrei, l’Italia è il paese dei pregiudizi’ (Jews: Italy is the country of prejudices), published by national circula-
19 See tion newspaper L’Unità (10 May 2008)
20 See 28

156 157
old Italian citizen originally from Burkina Faso, is a typical case. The young man was killed in Milan on
14 September 2008 by two bartenders aged 51 and 31, a father and a son: although the murderers had 1. The Third Criminal Section of the Court of Cassation has ruled (ruling No. 11919/2006) that
admitted to bludgeoning A. G. and his friends while at the same time shouting racist slogans such as «you forcibly removing a Muslim woman veil is a racist action, as well as a specific aggravating circum-
shithead niggers» and «where the hell are you chocolate tidbit hiding», the public prosecutor decided not stance for any crime. The Court justices further specified that “the intention to jeopardize the
to claim racist aggravations, and therefore charged the two men with wilful murder attended with the moral integrity of people belonging to Islam, i.e. a religious culture which is different from the
aggravating circumstance of futile reasons. Catholic culture prevailing in the country” can be inferred “from the meaning of the words that
Although it isn’t tightly connected to the subject matter of this survey, it is worth recalling here a ruling of were spoken and from the context in which they were pronounced (i.e. while trying to remove the
the Court of Cassation concerning the Roma ethnic minority. This ruling was bitterly criticized, mainly veil Islam prescribes women faithful to wear; the women were harangued while on their way to
due to the way it was reported on by the media after it was made public. According to the ruling in point, the mosque, and were later attacked while on their way back)”. This ruling confirmed the verdict
“discrimination based on other people’s diversity differs from discrimination based on other people’s whereby the defendant, a man who had tried to forcibly remove the veil covering the women faces,
criminal conduct. All in all, individuals can legitimately be discriminated because of their behaviours, had been found guilty of indecent behaviour with the aggravating circumstance of racial and re-
but not because of their being different”. Based on this rationale, in the past December Court of Cassa- ligious discrimination.
tion ruling No. 13234 of 28 March 200829 overturned and returned to the lower courts a previous lower 2. A 50 year old man from Trieste, Otto S., told his Israeli-origin employer: “this is no land of the
instance ruling against Mr. Fabio Tosi, the mayor of Verona and a standing member of the Lega Nord Jews, this is Italy, and you’ve got to abide by the civil law”. In ruling No. 10358 of 2008, the Fifth
party, who had been found guilty of “circulating discriminatory ideas”. He was charged with drafting Criminal Section of the Court of Cassation confirmed the sentence imposed on the employee un-
and circulating in 2001 a petition and some posters against some unauthorized nomads’ settlements. At der Section 594 of the Criminal Law. The Court stated that the employee’s behaviour belied “an
that time, Mr. Tosi was the Lega Nord floor-leader in the Veneto regional council; during a meeting, he demeaning attitude, since it contrasted the ‘land of the Jews’, or a Jewish country, and a civilized
had also stated that “Gypsies ought to be expelled because theft cases increase whenever they are around”. country, i.e. Italy, a ‘land where people abide by the law’, thereby equating the land of the Jews to
According to the Court of Cassation, in order to be discriminatory a statement needs to be based on some an uncivilized country where abuse is widespread”.
individual features (such as being black, a Gypsy, a Jew, etc.), not on the individual’s behaviour. Dis-
crimination based on other people’s diversity differs from discrimination based on other people’s criminal 3. There is no escape from criminal proceedings, nor are there any extenuation circumstances, for
behaviours. whoever exploits the Internet to instigate racial hatred against Jews in the name of Christian
“All in all, individuals can legitimately be discriminated because of their behaviours, but not because religious ideal, thereby calling for a «holy war» against «Zionist racism» and against the «rule
of their being different”. These statements definitely sound debatable30; the ruling didn’t actually acquit of the Jewish minority of society». This warning was issued by the Court of Cassation, which
Mr. Tosi and the other defendants, but it did overturn the appeal ruling and it did return the case to the sentenced (32 year old) Alessandro M. for circulating racist ideas. The man used to advertise Ar-
Court of Appeal, as correctly pointed out by the lawyers bringing a civil action in the criminal proceed- ian race supremacy on the “Holywarvszog” Website on behalf of a so-called “People’s resistance
ings in point31. On 20 October 2008, the Court of Appeal of Venice once again sentenced32 Mr. Tosi to and Christian alternative movement” (Movimento di resistenza popolare, alternativa cristiana).
two months’ imprisonment and to a three-year ban from electoral contests (both punishments have been The Court thus confirmed the four months’ imprisonment sentence that had been imposed on
stayed) for circulating leaflets carrying slogans such as «Sign to expel the Sinti» in September 2001. The the defendant; the punishment had been changed into the obligation to do unpaid work for the
crime Mr. Tosi was found guilty of is the circulation of ideas based on racial or ethnic supremacy or ha- Misericordia non-profit group providing support to sick people in the town of Pontedera. Ales-
tred. Five more people were sentenced, namely Mr. Tosi’s sister, Barbara, and four more Lega Nord party sandro M. tried in vain to claim before the Court of Cassation that the texts he had put online
leaders, i.e. Mr. Maurizio Filippi, Mr. Matteo Bragantini (currently an MP), Mr. Luca Coletto and Mr. «were inspired by religious opinions, and therefore could not be punished». In ruling No. 37581,
Enrico Corsi. Damage compensation was also confirmed; such compensation had already been paid after the Third Criminal Section of the Court of Cassation replied that «the religious origin of racist
the first instance ruling in the amount of 2,500 euro to each of the seven Sinti plaintiffs and of 5,000 propaganda does not rule out the associated crime, since religious aims can not be construed as a
euro to the National Institute for Nomads (Opera nazionale nomadi); the defendants were also assigned justification under any general or special rules». With reference to the sentence «being true Chris-
the legal expenses, namely the 7,000 euro legal fee due to plaintiffs’ lawyer Federica Panizzo. In order to tians, we intend to declare a holy war against the enemies of God and of our Christian church»,
avoid a final sentence under the so-called Mancino law, the only open option is submitting an appeal to i.e. against «the Masonic - racist - Zionist order» - the Court of Cassation rejected the defendant’s
the Court of Cassation. claim according to which the call to a holy war could not be punished since «it basically hints at a
war of ethical nature». The justices have countered that «the ethical and unarmed nature of a holy
Turning now to the specific topic of our survey, some recent, interesting rulings by the Court of Cassation war bears no relevance, since the Law states that circulating ideologies based on racial hatred and
on anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are worth recalling here: discrimination is a crime, even in case such ideologies aren’t aimed at an armed confrontation».

29 The full text is available on the following website:

Institutional racism
30 See the comment by Fulvio Vassallo Paleologo: Since the relationship with the State is mainly gauged through its regulations, and since these often end
31 See
32 up providing no other tools but the afflictive ones associated to punishment, we thought it would be ap-

158 159
propriate to try and underscore that in some areas of our country some sorts of institutional racism exist,
whereby at times the Law itself ends up discriminating some groups; the number of these instances has
risen starting right after the so-called Consolidated Text on immigration and its subsequent amendments
came into force. The MIGRARE (Migrating) association has recently reported some of these cases. In
Naples, an Ivorian woman was denounced right after she had given birth to her baby; in the town of
Foggia (but also in the region of Veneto and in Milan) public transportation reserved to immigrants was
set up; a black tenor was excluded from a choir in the area around the town of Vicenza; the secretary of
the association, Shukri Said, “became herself a victim, all institutions keeping silent, when her character,
Jamila, was cancelled from the ‘Don Matteo 6’ fiction; with Jamila, she was playing the role of the first
coloured woman to become a Carabiniere in the history of Italian fiction”. While making reference to two
newspapers, namely Libero and Il Giornale, sociologist Alessandro Dal Lago33 claimed that a xenophobic
campaign was under way, stating that “the so-called independent newspapers stress «citizens’ insecurity»,
while human beings keep being threatened and humiliated every day, whether they are Italian citizens or
not, based on their origin. If they bother to report on it at all, the newspapers deal with racism in an un- In order to provide a better focus for this research work, it was considered appropriate to preliminarily
concerned tone”. European MP Giusto Catania, a member of the European Left, stated that the so-called identify some definitions, to be shared among the project partners, of such terms as racism, xenopho-
Repatriation Directive is a real juridical abomination, saying that “this Directive wrecks the European bia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and so on, which could be useful to coherently carry out the various
legal culture; it states that migrants are criminals, and that they can be detained for up to 18 months just planned activities. It is worth pointing out that racism often shows up at different levels, namely at the
because of their nationality. From now on, the UE won’t be the fatherland of human rights any longer, personal, institutional and system level.
since it has chosen to hand itself over to xenophobia and racism by giving way to discrimination”. This
choice risks encouraging the Italian government to stick to its security-oriented approach. The ‘security Anti-Semitism - The term anti-Semitism indicates the prejudices and the persecutory attitudes towards
package’ of the Berlusconi cabinet already allows detainment at the Identification and Expulsion Centres Jews. In this regard, it may be worth remembering that on 1 and 2 September 1938, the Cabinet of the
(CIE, Centro di Identificazione ed Espulsione), which were formerly known as Centres of Temporary Stay Kingdom of Italy, chaired by dictator Benito Mussolini, and by then a formal residue of the previous
(CPT, Centro di Permanenza Temporanea), to be extended up to 18 months. Interior Minister Roberto liberal regime, issued its first set of anti-Semitic and racist decrees, which created the High Council of
Maroni was clearly satisfied with the Directive; he was also quick to state that he will ask for the same to Demography and Race and the General Directorate of Demography and Race. What was worse, these
be transposed rightaway, pointing out that it «includes many provisions the Lega Nord party had already decrees provided for the exclusion (or the segregation) of Jewish professors and students, as well as for the
set forth in the security decree, such as the increase of detainment periods at the CPTs, stricter rules and ousting of foreign Jews from Italy. The legislative corpus set up by means of these laws, and of those issued
tougher entrance checks». Civil society largely and immediately reacted; it did so also through the weekly in the following months, provided the legal definition of the expression «belonging to the Jewish race»,
magazine Famiglia Cristiana (Christian Family), whose manager was denounced by Minister Maroni and subjected the involved people to many exclusions, prohibitions and outrages. Italy was thus turned
himself34. into a «racial State», a racist State and an anti-Semitic State.
The same Security Law Proposal also envisaged a stay permit fee. This prompted federal CGIL trade un- It is also worth noting a statement the UCEI Chairman made, once again in Italy, at the outset of the new
ion secretary Morena Piccinini35 to talk about “a clear sign of institutional racism, belying the government millennium, namely: “for this reason as well, our struggle against anti-Semitism needs more and more to
decision to make immigrants at least partially foot the bill of the current economic crisis, thereby pushing become a fight against any kind of attack and of discrimination aimed at those who live in our country,
them back into the clandestine realm”. In the city of Bologna, the Foreigner Bureau of the Questura (the abide by its laws and contribute to its growth all along”.
police headquarters) was also accused of “institutional racism” by the local Migrant Coordination (Coor-
dinamento migranti)36. Luckily, civil society hasn’t failed to react, rallying around in the hottest spots. An Affirmative action (positive discriminations) – These measures are aimed at a specific group, in order
initiative is worth mentioning as a widely representative example: in January 2008, 11 writers gathered to remove and prevent discrimination, or to make up for the disadvantages arising from existing attitudes,
in Treviso37 precisely to fight institutional racism; among them was Roberto Ferrucci, who stated that he behaviours and structures. These measures thus aim at accelerating those processes which are useful to
meant “to give voice to the people of Veneto who will never end up on the front page of any newspaper reach a de facto equality between the majority and the minorities. They are not aimed at creating different
because they use their hearts and their heads”. standards among individuals, though, and they actually need to be called off once equality of treatment
is achieved.

33 See
34 See the Open letter
35 See
36 See  See
37 See  UCEI program document prepared by its Chairman, Amos Luzzatto, and approved on 5 November 2000 by its Council, as extended
to include the community chairmen, concerning the political situation

160 161
Islamophobia - This is a newly coined word which means prejudice and discrimination against Islam privilege». Racist ideologies have four typical traits:
as a religion, as well as against Muslims as believers. This term is thus currently used to indicate two at-
titudes, namely: 1. they build up and stress real or imaginary differences between the racist and his/her victim;
- hostility, or negative feelings anyway, towards Islam or some of its displays, or towards Muslims as be- 2. they exploit these differences to the racist’s advantage and to his/her victim’s disadvantage;
lievers; 3. they generalize these differences and make them absolute;
- a xenophobic attitude towards Muslims who live in Western countries and, by analogy, towards people 4. they legitimate an attack or a privilege.
coming from Muslim-majority countries (or whose parents come from such countries, e.g. the Middle
East, the Maghreb, Turkey and Muslim Sub-Saharan Africa); in this latter meaning, Islamophobia is In order to become an established practice, and to define itself as an ordering and sorting principle, rac-
homologous to another newly coined word, namely Judeophobia. ism needs simple and logically connected statements. The rationalized proposal is based on the following
Islamophobia is often mixed up with anti-Islamism, i.e. the opposition to the political theories and prac- basic principles: races exist, there is continuity between the physical level and the moral level, groups act
tices aimed at creating a state where Islam provides the principles regulating not only the religious life, but on individuals, a unique hierarchy exists among values, policies are grounded in race-oriented knowledge,
the economic, political and social life as well. which harmonizes the world and its description. The moral judgement and the political ideal of racism
The use of such terms as Islamophobia and its equivalents in the various languages is quite controversial: follow from these principles.
some movements and institutions have no problems using it, while other bodies refuse it and see a prob-
lem in using it. This latter stance has in turn been criticized for being strongly ideological. Racial discrimination - Racial discrimination, on the contrary, means a difference in the way people are
In “western” countries, this attitude ends sometimes up giving rise to public initiatives, such as the attempts treated based on basic identification traits which are considered immutable. From a juridical standpoint,
to forbid or stop mosque construction, which are aimed at preventing or hindering the practice of Islam. racial discrimination includes public defamatory statements which are prejudicial to human dignity.
Enrico Galoppini is an expert in Arab studies who has devoted a work of his to the problem of Islamo- «The term racial discrimination can be taken as the definition of a specific form of inequality of treatment
phobia; he thinks that Islamophobia is inextricably tied to the “Atlantistic policies”, and that it was thus of people in comparable situations; such inequality aims at, or leads to, bringing discredit by exploiting a
deliberately set up in order to make Western public opinion lean in favour of US, NATO and Israel basic distinctive feature which is deeply rooted in the involved person’s identity».
campaigns in the so-called Greater Middle East. Galoppini notes that the whole range of western policies Discrimination can be based on various features, such as gender, religion, philosophical opinions, physical
contributes, one way or another, to generate the idea of “Islam as a problem”; he further claims that, at a disabilities, age, gender preferences and ethnic appurtenance. Discrimination can take different forms,
deeper level, Islamophobia betrays the twofold meaning of the “clash of civilization” slogan, namely an namely be a) direct, when individuals get different treatments under the same conditions e.g. because of
instrumental meaning (at the level of political propaganda) and a substantial meaning (as western domi- their ethnic origin, religious belief or philosophical opinions (as in the case for instance of a young appren-
nation means the spreading of a materialist society, which sees Islamic society as a hurdle, since it is based tice looking for a job, who is offered no jobs because his/her last name «sounds from the Balkans», and is
on the existence of a divine reality). thereby branded as unruly by prospective employers); b) indirect, when measures are adopted which are
According to Caroline Fourest and Fiammetta Venner, on the contrary, the term Islamophobia was origi- deemed to be neutral but actually have a major quantitative or qualitative impact on some people, due to
nally coined by the Islamists themselves (and later on used by people in good faith) in order to prevent (by their ethnic origin, their religious belief, their philosophical opinions, their physical disabilities, their age
charging it with racism) both a laic criticism of Islam as a religion and what Muslims feel as blasphemy or their gender preferences (e.g. the prohibition to carry out for-profit activities on camping sites, where only
(as in the well known case of the Danish satirical comic strips). recreational activities are allowed, prevents nomads to park their vehicles and stay at public camping sites).

Racism - Although this topic has been the subject of many studies, no universally accepted and shared Xenophobia - This term comes from the Greek word ξενοφοβία (xenophobia) which means “fear of
definition of racism exists as yet. The most commonly adopted definition was provided by French sociolo- the unlike”, and is made up by the words ξένος (xenos), i.e. “unlike, unusual”, and φόβος (phobos),
gist Albert Memmi, and it reads: «Racism is the widespread and final exploitation of real or imaginary i.e. “fear”; it means fear of whatever is different by nature, race or aspect. It thereby also means rejecting
differences to the accuser’s advantage and to the victim’s disadvantage, in order to justify an attack or a foreigners and people who do not belong to a population’s ethnic or national majority. This attitude isn’t
always limited to fear, but it turns into real intolerance and discrimination against the object of such fears.
Racism is generally described as a sort of xenophobia, and so are prejudices and homophobia, too.
 For further reading:
 Islamofobia. Attori, tattiche e finalità (Islamophobia. Players, tactics and goals)
 Caroline Fourest (Aix-en-Provence, 19 September 1975) is a French writer, journalist and feminist; she is also the editor of the
“Prochoix” (Pro-choice) magazine, and the author of a book titled Frère Tariq (Brother Tariq), in which she sheds a critical light on the  Albert Memmi, Il razzismo. Paura dell’altro e diritti della differenza (Racism. The Fear of the Other and the Right to Differ), Genoa,
work of intellectual Tariq Ramadan. Ms. Fourest holds a degree in Social and Political Sciences; she has written various books on such 1989, page 123.
topics as right-wing conservatism, the pro-life movements and the current trends of Abrahamitic (i.e. Christian, Jewish and Muslim)  Dario Padovan, Meccanismi generativi e modelli applicativi del razzismo, (Racism generating mechanisms and application models), in
religious fundamentalism. In early 1999, she was the chairwoman of the Gay and Lesbian Centre (Centre Gai et Lesbien). In March Giovanna D’Amico (editor), Razzismo, antisemitismo, negazionismo (Racism, anti-Semitism and negationism), ISRAT - Istituto per la
2006 she was one of the signatories of the appeal titled Together against the new totalitarianism, which was issued in reply to the violent storia della resistenza e della società contemporanea in provincia di Asti (Institute for the history of the resistance and for contemporary
censuring protests that followed the publication of Muhammad caricatures by the Jyllands-Posten newspaper; like other signatories (e.g. history in the district of Asti), January 2007, page 28.
Salman Rushdie, Ibn Warraq, Maryam Namazie, Taslima Nasreen and Ayaan Hirsi Ali), she has received death threats. She was awarded,  Kälin Walter, Grundrechte im Kulturkonflikt (Constitutional Guarantees in Cultural Conflicts), Bern, 1999, page 87, translated
among others, the French National Award for Laicism (2005) and the Political Book Award (2006).  Source:

162 163


Development: stages, topics, participants

The design of the local laboratories has been clarified during the first international meeting on the project
in Frankfurt, Germany (April 2009).
One representative of CCS – Dr Vesselin Mintchev – has participated at the meeting.
Due to the later involvement in the project work, the Bulgarian partner has not insured participation of
both target communities at the meeting in Frankfurt.
Bulgarian partner has presented the specific Bulgarian context, which can be summarized as “Bulgaria
between saving the Bulgarian Jews and the so-called regeneration process”.

From the very beginning of the Otherwise project realization, a potential problem for CCS has been the
insufficiently good knowledge of the problems – inter-ethnic and inter-religious relations in the “periph-
ery” of the European continent (as is exactly the Bulgarian case).
For the overcoming of this deficit, Dr. Roska Petkova has had active contacts with representatives of the
Jewish community in Bulgaria, as well as with people from the circles of immigrants from Near East and
Middle East. The project coordinator for Bulgaria – Dr. Vesselin Mintchev – has realized over 10 meet-
ings with different “stakeholders” – the translator of the Qur’an into Bulgarian Assoc. Prof. Teofanov,
representatives of IOM, UN High Commissariat for Refugees, Commission for Protection against the
Discrimination, the Deputy Chairman of MRF Mr. Kasim Dal, the Chairman of Youth organization of
MRF Mr. Ismailov, the Chairman of Sofia organization of MRF Mr. Halilov, the Chairman of “Toler-
ance” Association Mr. Ibriamov, representatives of Head Mufti’s Office, as well as representatives of the
youth organization of the Syrian community in Bulgaria.
All this has helped identify contact points, sensitizing the communities on the goals and tasks of the

 The so-called “regeneration process” is a forced change of the names of the Bulgarian Muslims, which has led to their mass moving to
Turkey. Later the names of the Muslims have been restored but these tragic events have built a wall of mistrust, suspicion and fear between
the Muslim and Turkish community and the Bulgarian majority.
 Center for Comparative Studies, Sofia.
 Movement of Rights and Freedom /The party “Movement for Rights and Freedoms” (MRF) is a successor of the illegal organizations
of the Bulgarian Turks and Bulgarian Mohammedans for restoring their rights since the end of 1980s. It is supported, but not only, by
the Muslims population in the country. According to MRF information, about 15% of its members are ethnic Bulgarians, and 5-6% are
Roma. All traditional for Bulgaria ethnic groups are represented in the party. MRF has a liberal orientation. It is a member of the Euro-
pean Liberal-Democratic Party and the Liberal International.


Following the methodology elaborated under the Otherwise project as it regards the selection of partici- The “gender distribution” has been 9 men and 11 women. The predominant age of participants has been
pants, discussion topics and animation methods, the Center for Comparative Studies has engaged with less than 30.
the Program for informal education of Shalom, Head Mufti’s Office, Syrian community in Bulgaria. During the laboratory “Is it easy to be a Muslim/Jew in Bulgaria?” a historical overview of the presence,
traditions, symbols and contemporary problems of the Jewish community in Bulgaria has been done.
The representatives of both communities have been identified – Victor Fachev – volunteer in the pro- One of the goals has been to see the extent, to which stereotypes (both positive and negative ones) are due
gram of informal training, and Hayri Emin from the Head Mufti’s Office in Sofia. CCS has relied on to ignorance concerning the Jewish culture.
the engagement of Ruslan Trad – blogger of Forum for Arab Culture “Mahmud Darwish”. With their During the discussion the moderator has asked the participants to answer the question Is it easy to be a
cooperation have been selected the respondents for the in-depth interviews, as well as the participants Jew/Muslim in Bulgaria, provoking interesting comments.
in the forums – from the circles of the program for informal training, students in the Islamic Spiritual The artist Lika Eshkenasi has presented Ladino songs – their history and preservation.
Institute, etc. At the end of the laboratory the participants have celebrated together Hanukkah in Sofia synagogue.

Many meetings before the first talk show, practically every week from September to December 2009, have On 21-23 January 2010 in Sofia is held the Second International Meeting on the Otherwise project. The
prepared the first two forums, as well as the international conference held in January 2010. meeting has been divided into two parts: official part – featuring former President of Bulgaria Dr. Zhelev
The aim of the regular meetings among others has been to familiarize the two communities’ representa- and the chairman of the Commission for Protection of Discrimination – Mr. K. Eyup.
tives, sensitization on issues of the Otherwise project etc. The first part involved 45 people – 32 people from Bulgaria, 9 people from Italy, 4 people from Germany.
Finally, the preparatory steps have allowed active involvement and participation of representatives of the There have been four representatives of Jewish community in Bulgaria, five representatives of Turkish
communities in initiating project activities in Sofia. community and two people of Syrian community. Many journalists, representatives on NGO, etc. have
also participated.
The first laboratory, held on 8th November 2009 in Sofia, has been attended by 12 people, including:
The “gender distribution” has been 20 men and 25 women. The predominant age of participants has been
• Six representatives of Turkish community in Bulgaria; less than 30-35.
• One representative of the Syrian community; In his speech President Zhelev has analyzed the coexistence of tolerance and intolerance in Bulgarian
• Three representatives of the Jewish community; society during the years. Mr. Eyup has presented activities of the Commission for Protection against
• Two representatives of the Center for Comparative Studies. Discrimination.

With regard to the gender dimensions of this first laboratory, there have been 4 women and 8 men. Most Prof. Padovan has presented a new research on Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in Europe, and Boshna-
participants, with the exception of representatives of CCS, have been were under the age of 30. The chair- kov and Mintchev have discussed the source of inequality in Bulgaria. The situation of Jewish, Muslim
man of the youth organization of MRF – Mr. Korman Ismailov has been also present. and immigrant community in Bulgaria has also been presented.
Media coverage of the official part has been as follows: the press release has been recorded by 27 sources in
This first forum has been organized under the title of “Unusual project in an unusual city”. One of the the country; there have been 32 publications in newspapers and internet, and 4 TV and radio emissions.
topics of the laboratory has been the results of in-depth interviews conducted in October 2009. The event The international meeting has continued on 22nd and 23rd January with participation of 23 people during
has been oriented towards the relationships “minority – majority”, towards comments on the fear of the the first day; and 15 people on the second.
Balkan communities of the difference. On 22nd January different comments have been made concerning the research activities results. During
the sessions presentations have been made describing the situation in each country. However, between the
The second talk show has been held in Sofia Jewish Home during the Hanukkah – on 13th December sessions, everyone has had the opportunity to familiarize with the Sofa synagogue and mosque, located
2009. The second meeting has been attended by 20 people, including: about 50 meters apart.

• Seven representatives of the Turkish community; The next Sofia talk show “What can be said for 10 minutes?” is held on 11th April 2010 in the Bulgarian
• Nine