Italian Muslims unveil mosque with church model

"Florence needs to have a mosque that rivals the city's historic beauty and cultural wealth," said the central Italian art city's imam, Elzir Izzedine. "The project is almost complete and will soon be presented to the mayor of Florence, Matteo Renzi, to plan its construction, said Izzedine, who also heads the union of Islamic communities in Italy, UCOII.

Renzi has already said that he is not against a mosque in the city. "If our Muslim friends present a project, we will evaluate it and have an open-minded discussion about it," he said.

The black, green and white marble mosque boasts an open gallery, six arches with a large circular ornamental window or rosette, a prayer hall and two minarets.
Architect David Napolitano said he designed the exterior of the mosque to make it look similar to many of the city's landmark churches and buildings.
The mosque has received several positive reactions to the plans, including messages of support from local Christian communities, Napolitano said.

But leaders of the anti-immigrant Northern League have opposed the proposal, saying the move was a threat to the stablity of Italian society.
Some Northern League politicians have suggested a referendum be held on its construction.
The Northern League has paraded pigs over mosque building sites, which is home to more than one million Muslims.

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