An Italian news agency has reported that a spokesman of the largest Muslim Brotherhood organization in Italy has objected to the cancellation of a visit by a prominent Rome Imam to the city’s synagogue as a result of a ruling by Al-Azhar, the Islamic theological center in Egypt dominated by Saudi Arabia. According to the report:
The imam of Rome’s mosque, Ala Eldin Mohammed Ismail al-Ghobaishy, has cancelled an historic visit to the city’s synagogue after intervention from the grand mosque of Al-Azhar in Egypt. Abd Al Fattah Allam, spokesman for Al-Azhar told Italian newspaper La Repubblica: “We are adopting a positive approach” to interreligious dialogue. But in an implicit reference to the current crisis in the Gaza Strip, he said “that cannot be considered between Islam and Judaism until proper rights are restored for those who are entitled to them”…..Al-Ghobaishy was planning to visit the synagogue on Wednesday, accompanied by Rome’s Cultural Islamic Centre secretary Abdellah Redouane and adviser Mario Scialoja. Chief rabbi Riccardo Di Segni, Rome’s Jewish community president Leone Paserman and vice-president Riccardo Pacifici were expected to receive the Muslim delegation at the synagogue. The visit follows that made in March last year by Di Segni to Rome’s mosque – the first-ever by a rabbi.
The report went on to cited a representative of the Union of Islamic Communities and Organizations in Italy (UCOII), generally recognized as the Muslim Brotherhood in Italy, as encouraging such dialog:
Ezzedin el-Zir, from the Union of Islamic Communities and Organisations in Italy (UCOII), Italy’s largest Muslim group, said despite the visit’s cancellation dialogue should continue between the parties. “I do not know the real reasons that have pushed the imam from the Rome mosque, Ala Eldin Mohamed Ismail al Ghobashy, to postpone the visit to the synagogue but I believe that the dialogue should advance despite everything,” he told Adnkronos International (AKI). “I believe that dialogue must go forward and increase in intensity especially in difficult times like these. I, like the imam of Florence, have already visited the synagogue in my city and the one in Venice in the past.”
Muslim Brotherhood organizations in both Europe and the U.S. frequently engage in “interfaith dialog” and recent posts have discussed the growing partnership between a major Jewish religious organization and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), a part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood. Brotherhood organizations in general have a long history of anti-Semitism and support for Hamas, so attempts at dialog with the Jewish community might be viewed with suspicion in an absence of a serious and public attempt to come to terms with such factors.