Campaigners in the central Italian region of Tuscany are opposing a plan to build a mosque near the iconic Leaning Tower of Pisa.
They have raised concerns about the proposed mosque’s close proximity to the stone tower, which is one of Italy’s most famous tourist attractions, and fear that it could become a centre for “radicalisation”.
The building of the mosque in Via del Brennero has been provisionally approved by Pisa’s council but campaigners are gathering signatures for a petition calling for a local referendum on the issue.
If granted, it would be the first time an Italian city held a referendum on the building of a new mosque.
There has been strong opposition in other cities, including Milan in the north of the country, to the construction of mosques and Islamic centres.
The mayor of Pisa defended the proposal, saying there was no reason why the mosque should not be built.
Blocking it would be in contravention of freedom of worship, which is enshrined in the Italian constitution, said Marco Filippeschi.
The row over the mosque comes just days after authorities ordered the expulsion of a Tunisian man who they suspected of planning an attack on the Leaning Tower.
Bilel Chiahoui, 26, was arrested last week after posting messages on social media praising the perpetrators behind the recent attacks in Europe and planning to attack the monument.
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