Last week, the Italian interior minister, Giuliano Amato, hosted a conference in Rome on “Islam and Integration.”
Italy, one of Europe’s southern border states, has 1 million Muslims out of a population of 58 million people. Illegal immigrants arrive in Italy in huge numbers. According to a recent survey, the country could count almost 7 million Muslims by the end of the next decade.
The Italians, however, have a way of dealing with illegal immigrants. They regularly transform them into legal residents by granting them official papers. Since 1988 Italy has organized six amnesties for illegal aliens — the last one in 2006, when 500,000 people were given permission to stay. Most of them leave Italy shortly afterward. Since Italy belongs to the European Union and since the EU adheres to the principle of the free movement of persons, an amnesty gives immigrants the right to freely enter all EU member states. Italy allows the immigrants in so that they move out, to EU nations with more generous welfare systems.
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