Islamic organizations in the West

New welfare actors in the new welfare systems in Europe

Authored by: Elisa Banfi

Routledge Handbook of Islam in the West

Print publication date:  August  2014
Online publication date:  September  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415691321
eBook ISBN: 9781315794273
Adobe ISBN: 9781317744023


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In December 2010, the Bishop of the diocese of Milan, Dionigi Tettamanzi, sold his collection of static nativity scenes at auction to increase the resources of the diocesan fund for unemployed workers and poor families. The population hailed this event as a sign of divine providence. Contrary to popular belief, however, the Catholic fund was created in 2009 to combat the effects of the financial crisis and fill the gap created by the inability of public institutions to help the local community. Catholic organizations have also not been alone in the fight to combat the social chaos created by the global crisis. Other, less noticed actors have also organized welfare services to maintain a minimum of social cohesion in this context. For instance, although they haven’t made headlines with it, local Islamic organizations have increased their distribution of daily meal vouchers and monthly family allowances, unemployment credits, and child benefits in Milan. Their services have reduced the consequences of economic instability in one of the most precarious social strata within Italian society: immigrants. Both Catholic and Islamic organizations have provided welfare services, offering real “safety valves” for immigrants, who have limited access to institutional social services.

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