Thursday, November 03, 2005

Italy: Muslim Ambassadors Praise Berlusconi's Eid Supper

Italy: Muslim Ambassadors Praise Berlusconi's Eid Supper

The decision by Italy's prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, to invite ambassadors from Muslim countries to a dinner celebrating Eid al-Fitr, the end of Ramadan, has been welcomed by his guests. The dinner, hosted on Wednesday night at the elegant Villa Madama residence on the outskirts of Rome, is the first of its kind in Italy. Berlusconi who made international headlines in 2003 with comments, which he later said had been misinterpreted, about the superiority of Western civilisation over Islam, told the diplomats that democracy, inter-faith dialogue and integration are the way forward. Contacted by Adnkronos International (AKI) some of the ambassadors who attended the fast-breaking meal - including Iran's ambassador to Italy - were appreciative of Berlusconi's speech, appreciating the desire for dialogue with the Muslim world. According to Sudan's ambassador to Italy, Rabi Hasan Ahmad, Berlusconi's Eid dinner, which "came at an opportune moment", was "a clear message sent by the Italian government to reassure the Arab-Muslim world." Pakistan's ambassador to Italy agreed: "I am sure that this initiative will be repeated in years to come," he said. "The Italians' drive for dialogue with the Arab-Islamic world is to be applauded." Iran's ambassador to Italy, Mahmoud al-Alami, said Wednesday's dinner showed Italy's sensitivity to events in the Arab-Muslim world.


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