Silvia Mocchi, LUISS Guido Carli.
Accommodation of Muslim Claims through Political Participation at the Local Level. The Case of the Lombardy Law against Mosques
In 2015 Lombardy Region (Italy) promulgated a law to make more difficult building places of worships for religious groups without an agreement with the State. Muslims were the target of the law: the community is numerous but without purpose built mosques.
Standardly, majority-minority relationships are addressed with the tools of toleration. Does tolerance provide an exhaustive explanation for the injustice of the Lombardy Law? My answer to this question is negative because it is necessary to complement the idea of toleration with recognition respect. Respect means granting self-legislation through political participation and giving a role to minorities’ members in the law-making process. The law is unfair because it jeopardizes also Muslims’ right to self-legislation.
In order to promulgate respectful laws for minorities, the demos must be expanded up to include as many members of the society as possible. I propose, following Bauböck (2015: 821) ‘a multilevel architecture of enfranchisement’: participation should be granted through differentiated membership rights. First, citizenship must be the most inclusive possible. Second, non-citizen residents should be granted the right to vote at local level. However, this is insufficient to ensure self-legislation for minority groups that can be outnumbered. So to adjust unbalanced systems of power is necessary to give minorities greater weight at local level. Law-making procedures at local level should be based on a proportionality principle instead on a pure democratic principle to solve the tensions between democracy (majority rule) and social justice (protection of minority). To meet this goal is necessary to elect in local councils representatives for minorities whose vote needs to carry greater weight and exercise a veto power on issues specific for the minority.