Abstract: In Italy imams are more than 800 members. As imams, they are almost all self-taught people. As citizens, most of the times they have a precarious job. During the week, they normally take care of things other than religion. They perform religious functions in their spare time. Moreover, to see them working as imams, you have to go down in some underground parking or in apartments converted into mosques, where sometimes you see minaret and other Islamic symbols, but only in either the picture or in the paintings hanging on the wall. In the end of the day, we know little or almost nothing about imams. Besides, the Italian law normally do not recognise them as religious authorities. Nevertheless, as imams they play a very important role in local Muslim communities that, under the pressing process of immigration, hold nowadays more than two millions persons. The paper will analyse the status of Islamic imams in Italy, comparing them with the status of other religious authorities (priests, rabbis, pastors ecc.). In particular, this comparative perspective will be focused on both angles: on the one hand, the research will compare the role of imams with those of religious authorities within their respective community; on the other, we will compare imams with considered the different way through which Italian law treats both imams and other religious authority. This perspective will give us a possibility to underline how both the social context and the Italian legal framework (regulating the State-religions connexions) manage religious claims.
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