Obviously Rome is a city where religion makes the news regularly and prominently. The Italian news agencies, television and radio stations and newspapers all have reporters working full-time covering the Vatican, which makes it even more amazing when an Italian religion story does not involve Catholics.
That’s what happened a few days ago. Italian news outlets, including Vatican Radio, have dedicated print space and airtime to the fact that the imam of Rome’s mosque will pay his first visit ever to Rome’s synagogue.
Ala Eldin Mohamed Ismail el Ghobashy, the imam of Rome’s main mosque, will visit the synagogue Jan. 23, Rome’s Jewish community announced.
His visit comes almost two years after Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni of Rome made his first visit to Rome’s mosque, which opened in 1995. The mosque can hold 2,500 worshippers and includes a library, cultural center and auditorium.
Leone Paserman, president of the Rome Jewish community, told the Italian newspaper Il Tempo, “We are very honored by this visit. We are an ancient community ready to help a young community like the Islamic one,” which is made up mainly of recent immigrants.
Along with the lay Catholic Community of Sant’Egidio, Paserman said, the Jewish and Muslim communities have been sponsoring a series of meetings and joint projects and have even published together a magazine called “Knowing One Another and Living Together.”
“Rome has a huge symbolic value,” he said. “Everything that happens here takes on greater importance.”