1st Edition

Constitutional Democracy and Islam The Legal Status of Muslims in Italy

By Francesco Alicino Copyright 2023

    This book outlines the legal status of Muslims in Italy. In particular, it highlights that, when it comes to Islam, the Italian legal system exacerbates the dilemma of contemporary constitutional democracies, increasingly caught between the principle of equality and the right to have rights, which implies the respect of diversity. It provides readers with a deep understanding of how domestic and external socio-political factors may muddle the interpretation of Italy’s constitutional provisions, starting with those relating to state secularism and religious freedom. It is argued that today, as never before, these provisions are torn between the principle of equality and the right to be different. This situation has been exacerbated by incessant states of emergency, from immigration to religion-inspired terrorism, in light of which the presence of Islam in the peninsula has been highly politicized. Italy’s experience on the legal status of Muslims provides an interesting case study and, as such, a valuable source of empirical information for a functioning and pluralistic constitutional democracy, especially when dealing with conditions of fear and insecurity. The book will be of interest to researchers, academics, and policy-makers working in the areas of law and religion, constitutional law, comparative law, and human rights.



    1 Religious Matrices of Constitutional Democracies


    Vicarius Dei

    The Janus-Faced

    Secularizing Imago Dei

    Secularizing the Law

    From Tolerance to Freedom 

    And Islam?

    Theological and Secular Transformations

    The Emergence of the Muslim Question

    Towards the Religionization of Nation-States

    2 Majority and Minority Religions in Italy


    Historical and Political Backgrounds

    Belief, Behaviour, and Belonging in Italy

    The Hallmarks of Cultural-Religious Disputes

    The Majority and Minorities

    Bilateralism Method

    Bilateral Legislations for Minorities

    The Supreme Principle

    Secularism Under the Other Paradigm

    Secularism and Neo-Pluralism

    3 Sharia, Islam, and Muslims in the Peninsula


    Islamic Sources of Law: A Relative Immutability

    A Living Book

    A Living Book in Constitutional Democracies

    Mutual Interference

    Muslims in Europe and the Three Bs

    Islam in the Peninsula

    The Italian Sword of Islam

    The Islams

    The Pictures of Italian Islam

    4 Constitutional Democracy and Islam in Italy


    Mapping Islam in Italy

    Legal Forms of Islam in Italy

    Places of Worship

    Burial Practices and Cemeteries

    Financing Islam

    Italian Prisons and Islam

    Symbols of Islam


    Muslim Workers

    5 Muslims in Italy and States of Emergency


    Accommodating Muslim Personal Law

    Pragmatic Approaches

    Administrative Bilateralism

    Dante’s Limbo and the Hell of Italian Bureaucracy

    Muslims as Unpredictable Realities

    Violent Interpretations

    Preventing Religion-Inspired Violent Radicalization

    Security, Securitization, and Deradicalization

    Symbols of Constitutional Democracies




    Francesco Alicino is Full Professor of Public Law and Religion at the University of LUM, Italy, where he also teaches constitutional law, law of the third sector, and immigration law.