By Daniel Reichel
Fighting intolerance and religious radicalism in prison: this is the main goal of the project “Understanding and Managing Religious Pluralism in Lombardy Prisons.”
The Milan Jewish Community has been involved in this project since last year.
The initiative sees different religious realities (Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, together with the Jewish Community of Milan, which has been involved since last year) cooperating with the Regional Jail Superintendent and the University of Milan to teach pluralism to people who work inside the prisons as well as the inmates.
The first phase of the project took place in 2016, and involved 50 employees of three different Lombard prisons. This year, and for the next three years, in addition to the prison staff (police officers, legal and pedagogical officials, teaching staff, social workers) inmates of nine regional prisons will take part in the project.
“In San Vittore 67% of the inmates are foreigners, for a total of about 90 different ethnic groups”, said Gloria Manzelli, director of the Milan San Vittore prison. ” Religious and cultural diversity is a value, understanding diversity and how to live together with different traditions is a tool for coexistence”.
Nowadays authorities are very concerned about Muslim radicalism and prisons are a fertile ground for it: this training project, which involves not just Muslims but all the main religions, is a way to confront this dangerous tendency.
“In an era of religious wars, we demonstrate that we can work together,” said Davide Romano, member of the Board of the Milan Jewish Community. “Religious pluralism is good for everybody; if we foster a growing tolerance in prison, when detainees are released they will have a more open and tolerant vision.”
By Daniel Reichel