Sharia Law in Catholic Italy: A Non-Agnostic Model of Accommodation

21 Pages Posted: 22 Feb 2013 Last revised: 16 Jan 2015

See all articles by Vito Breda

Vito Breda

University of Southern Queensland; University of Southern Queensland, School of Law and Justice, Students; USQ School of Law and Justice

Date Written: February 18, 2013


The Italian Constitution and its interpretation by the Constitutional Court have led to the development of a model of accommodation of religious practices that seeks to balance a commitment to promoting religious pluralism whilst, at the same time, maintaining the neutrality of state institutions. What is distinctive about this quasi-neutral constitutional stance is the commitment to reducing the discrepancies between the legal and religious effects of key life decisions (e.g. the decision to get married). I call this stance positive secularism. In this essay, I would like to show that, thus far, positive secularism has been particularly effective in accommodating the demands of Muslim immigrants (Pacini 2001). For instance, some aspects of the Sharia law, such as marriage (including some effects of polygamous marriage) and divorce (including some effects of unilateral divorce), are already recognized by Italian international private law. The second stage for the accommodation of Sharia law in Italy is likely to be the recognition of Islam as one of Italy’s official religions. Recognition will increase the level of the Islamic communities’ autonomy and will allow for the automatic recognition of some aspects of Sharia law. In February 2010, the Italian government established the Committee for Islam, composed of representatives of Italian Islamic communities, within the Ministry of Interior Affairs. In the recent past, these types of dialogues between institutions and religious representatives have been the proxy for the official recognition of nine faiths in Italy. Waldensian Evangelical Church, the World Assemblies of God Fellowship, the Evangelical Baptist Church, the Lutheran Baptist Church, the Apostolic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints, the Adventist Church, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Italy, Hebrew Communities of Italy. The chapter is divided into two sections, which is preceded by an introduction, and followed by a conclusion. The first section will discuss the judicial introduction of Sharia law via the procedure of Italian international law. The second section will explain the advantages of the recognition process and the reasons that have prevented Islamic communities from benefiting from it.

Keywords: Constitutional Law, Religion, Sharia Law, Italy, Catholics, Religious Freedom

JEL Classification: K19, J6, J70

Suggested Citation

Breda, Vito and Breda, Vito, Sharia Law in Catholic Italy: A Non-Agnostic Model of Accommodation (February 18, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Vito Breda (Contact Author)

University of Southern Queensland ( email )

West St
Toowoomba, 4350


University of Southern Queensland, School of Law and Justice, Students ( email )

P.O.Box 238 Darling Heights
Toowoomba, Queensland 4359

USQ School of Law and Justice ( email )

P.O.Box 238 Darling Heights
Toowoomba, Queensland 4350

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