ROME (JTA) – The Milan Jewish community severed relations with a local Muslim association following verbal attacks on Israel made by the group’s spokesman.
A statement from the Jewish community said it had decided to break ties with the Milan Islamic Associations Coordination, or CAIM, which links more than 30 Muslim groups in the Milan area.
The decision came after CAIM spokesman Davide Piccardo was quoted in the media as calling Israel “a state that constantly violates international law and the most elementary human rights, carrying forward a brutal, racist and criminal military occupation.”
Piccardo’s declaration, the statement said, “is an inacceptable declaration, not only for the Milan Jewish community but also for all the citizenry of Milan,” which has been a sister city of Tel Aviv since 1997.
The Milan Jewish community’s relations “with all the other Islamic associations in the city will continue with the usual serenity,” the statement said while reiterating that the Milan Jewish community “has always been and always will be close to the legitimate requests of the Milanese residents of Islamic faith regarding the construction of places of worship in Milan.”
The rupture with CAIM came in the wake of controversy over the participation over the weekend of Jordanian Imam Riyadh al-Bustanji in ceremonies organized by CAIM in Milan to mark the end of Ramadan.
Al-Bustanji, who has close ties to the terrorist organization Hamas, appeared on a Hamas/Gaza TV interview in June saying he would bring his daughter to Gaza to learn how to become a martyr for Islam.
Piccardo was quoted by local media Wednesday as saying he was “astonished and displeased” by the break.
“We are always open to dialogue and we are convinced that such an extreme position is not shared by the majority of the Jewish community,” he reportedly said.