"Hybrid Culture" Emerges Among Italian Muslims

July 24, 2004

Source: The Washington Post


On July 24, 2004 The Washington Post reported, "One recent evening, the band at the Thousand and One Nights Restaurant played hand-held drums and stringed instruments on a platform ringed with Oriental rugs and pillows, and a singer warbled Arabic love songs. It could have been a festive scene in Damascus, Cairo or Rabat. In fact the brightly lit establishment was in the Italian capital, and many of its customers were sipping glasses of wine and beer, beverages forbidden in the Islamic countries from which they or their forbears came. Italy's Muslim population recently passed the 700,000 mark, and as it has grown, so have Muslim voices expressing a desire to fit in with the host society. Some Muslims stick rigidly to the ways of the old country, yet at places like this restaurant, others are creating a hybrid culture of tolerance and experimentation. These people may skip Friday prayers at the local mosque, but they continue to crave sentimental Arab love songs; they may stay away from beaches where string bikinis are common, but they have no problem with the Italian tradition of enjoying a glass of wine."