Italy Seizes Quran-printed Toilet Seats

27/10/2007 01:00:58 PM GMT

ROME Italian Muslims have swiftly acted to stop the sale in local stores of toilet seat covers that feature verses of the Noble Qur'an in an unprecedented blasphemous act, reporting the matter to appropriate authorities and politicians, who proved forthcoming. "I would like to thank Italian authorities who responded positively to our complaints against this profanity," Samir Al-Khalidi, the head of the Islamic Centre (Al-Huda) in Rome, told IslamOnlin Saturday, October 27.

"We reacted astutely to this provocation and threw the ball in the court of security officials and politicians, demanding them to seize the products immediately to head off angry Muslim reaction," he added.

The Lazio-based Orizzonte Company unveiled this month a new collection of bathroom products including the offensive toilet cover seats.

They feature verses from the Noble Qur'an printed on the double face of the cover seats and intersected by colorful flowers and Latin words.

Following Muslim complaints, police raided the four braches of the company in the town of Latina, 60km south of Rome, and seized 2,000 such pieces on sale.

Interior minister Giuliano Amato met Friday with Italian Muslim leaders at the main Rome Mosque to reassure them that Italy would not tolerate such outrageous acts.

"This is an insult to the Muslim faith," The imam of the Lazio town of Latina's mosque, Sheikh Yusuf, told Amato.

Amato reassured Yusuf, saying: "I would like to tell our friends from Latina that we have been informed of this matter and are taking action because it is offensive."

Italy has a Muslim population of some 1.2 million, including 20,000 reverts, according to unofficial estimates.

Intentional


Al-Khalidi smelled a rat in the Italian company's act.

"Inscribing the toilet seat covers with Ayat Al-Kursi (The Verse of the Throne) and putting the noble verse in the nastiest place was not unintentional," he said.

On how he learnt about the matter, Al-Khalidi said a fellow Italian Muslim happened on the sacrilegious pieces as he went shopping in Latina on Wednesday, October 24.

Al-Khalidi said he does not buy the company's excuses that it did not know what the Arabic words written on the cover seats really meant.

"This is not about art and beauty as the company claims; this is a crime," he said.

Far-right senior Italian senator Roberto Calderoli, who is notorious for his anti-Islam stances, outraged Muslims last month by calling for a "Pig Day" protest against the planned construction of a mosque in northern Italy.

Last year, Calderoli lost a ministerial post in a centre-right government led by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for wearing a T-shirt with blasphemous Danish cartoons that lampooned Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

After the 2005 publication of the cartoons by Denmark's Jyallands Posten, Muslim minorities in many Western countries championed local know-prophet campaigns.
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