Milan measure restricting the construction of mosques thrown out

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Italian Carabinieri officers stand at the Duomo's square downtown Milan, Italy, on February 21, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini 
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-MILAN-MOSQUE, originally transmitted on Feb. 25, 2016.

Italian Carabinieri officers stand at the Duomo's square downtown Milan, Italy, on February 21, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-MILAN-MOSQUE, originally transmitted on Feb. 25, 2016.

Revelations-Series-Banner-770x150ROME (RNS) A top court in Italy has thrown out a rule that severely restricted the construction of mosques in and around Milan, a decision that drew criticism from the country’s far right groups.

Italy’s constitutional court on Wednesday (Feb. 24) overturned the rule imposed in the Lombardy region, after the central government intervened saying the measure violated religious and civil rights.

The court’s president, Paolo Grossi, welcomed the ruling. A full explanation of the court’s decision is expected to be published in the coming weeks.

Italian Carabinieri officers stand at the Duomo's square downtown Milan, Italy, on February 21, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini *Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-MILAN-MOSQUE, originally transmitted on Feb. 25, 2016.

Italian Carabinieri officers stand at the Duomo’s square in downtown Milan on Feb. 21, 2016. Photo courtesy of REUTERS/Stefano Rellandini
*Editors: This photo may only be republished with RNS-MILAN-MOSQUE, originally transmitted on Feb. 25, 2016.

Under the measure, introduced last year by the Northern League party, strict planning rules were put in place regarding the construction of religious buildings. The rule was widely seen as a move against the Muslim community.

The decision to scrap the rule was criticized by Matteo Salvini, leader of the Northern League, who described the court as an “Islamic council.”

Davide Piccardo, from the Coordination of Islamic Associations of Milan, said the ruling should prompt the city to allocate areas for mosques.

“The law was a legal disgrace and a case of unacceptable incivility and intolerance in Lombardy, where over 400,000 Muslims live and were considered second-class citizens,” he said.

(Rosie Scammell is an RNS correspondent based in Rome)