“Already in 2013 we declared that we had received funding from the ‘Qatar charity foundation’ to switch from renting to being owners of warehouses where we carried out our activities. Now we are talking about a scoop, but not in our case: we are the only ones to have declared having received these funds, also because we have always notified all the competent authorities. We did things in the light of day, there is no cash in our case because everything can be traced via wire transfers. There can be no Qatar papers in our case, because which papers are we talking about if we have always declared everything?”. So to Adnkronos Yassine Lafram, president of Ucoii, Union of Islamic Communities of Italy.
“How did we manage to get this money? – he continues – We have 1,300 Islamic places of worship in Italy, most of these centers are very precarious buildings, in 90% of cases we are rented and for a working-class community it is a hefty figure of 3,000 euro per month. As Ucoii we have always set ourselves the goal of helping the faithful in this sense, but without interference, as an act of pure charity. We went around looking for help and found benefactors in Qatar whom we convinced of the goodness of our project. They agreed to buy the properties from us, but they did so through the foundation accredited by the Qatari government, the ‘Qatar charity foundation’, in fact”.
It’s still. “Knowing how things work in Italy, we anticipated it, alerting the Italian authorities that we were working on that project and we had managed to find the funds to then bring them here. Informally we were told that it wouldn’t be a problem, in consideration of the fact that all the passages would have been traceable. Compared to the billions that go around the world, we are talking about ‘millions’ – underlines Lafram – who have simply helped 33 Islamic communities to have their own warehouses. I challenge any journalist to find closed and with a skin changed one of those sheds previously open to young people, women and interreligious dialogue. Thirty-three sheds out of over 1300: is it really a problem? Woe to building a Mosque in Italy, we have five throughout the country with a dome and minaret with 3 million Muslims who, if it suits them, can pray in sheds and buildings, as long as they are not kicked out of there too, as is the case I went to Cantù or Pisa. In Morocco there are 46 churches for 0.01% of the Christian population”.
“Which Qatar papers are we talking about? If there is anyone clean in this operation it is the Italian Islamic community. The only ones who have carried out a traced and traceable operation are the Islamic communities and in this case the UCOII – the president pressed Adnkronos – Throughout our long history we have received numerous offers of funds, to obtain which, however, we would have had to follow a certain line and a certain orientation: we have always refused because we want to maintain our autonomy, our independence, our line of thought We are Italian citizens of the Islamic faith, the Italian Constitution applies to us, we feel an integral part of this country. When we found benefactors, who without constraints helped us to move from renting to ownership for 33 warehouses out of 1300, we naturally accepted”.
“I understand that now we want to lump everything together – concludes Lafram – but here our hands are clean and our actions testify to it. We are the community of Italy, otherwise Finance would have come the next day. It was of a charitable operation, we have never taken money from Qatar, we have taken money from benefactors, from individuals, not from the governments of Arab-Islamic countries”.
(by Silvia Mancinelli)