The Arabic and Islamic courses planned to be taught in a school in northern Italy's Emilia-Romagna region were suspended after receiving reaction from anti-immigrant and central-right parties, local media outlets reported Saturday.
Emilia-Romagna Regional Assembly Member of the ruling anti-immigration League party Stefano Bargi and a deputy from the party, Guglielmo Golinelli opposed the course claiming it is against their "Western teaching standards."
"In our schools Italian language and Western culture are taught. We are absolutely against the use of a public schools' classes by an Islamic foundation to teach Arabic and Islamic lessons," British public service broadcaster BBC quoted Golinelli as saying.
The initiative was started by an Islamic Cultural Association named "La Pace [Peace]" after receiving approval from the school administration in the town of San Felice Sul Panaro. The lessons were planned to be taught to children mostly from the Middle Eastern and North African families but they would also be open to Italian children. It was planned that some 200 students between the ages of 6 and 14 would attend the classes, which would be taught by the volunteer teachers.
In a joint statement, central right parties in the region said that teaching Italian and the Italian Constitution to the immigrant children rather than Arabic or Islamic religious classes would be more beneficial in terms of integration.
Another politician from the center-right Forza Italia party, Enrico Aimi claimed that "the school is being transformed into a mosque."
Responding to reactions, the organizers of the course said that they aim to teach children how peaceful Islam is as a religion, instead of them learning the Arab culture and Islam from the internet through wrong sources.
On the other hand, the district municipality said in a statement on Friday that similar courses were taught in the past, but didn't get a reaction like this, claiming that the reaction is propaganda before the upcoming local elections which will be held in the coming months.