.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

15th Century fresco of Mohammed targeted in Italy

(ANSA) - Cagliari, April 6 - Terrorists planned to stage attacks on the Milan subway and in a Bologna church but were thwarted by Italian secret services, Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu said on Thursday .
One of the targets was the San Petronio church, which had been threatened before by Muslims. This article (I believe from the Times of London) is from June, 2001:
Muslim leaders in Italy are demanding the removal or destruction of a priceless 15th century fresco in Bologna that they say offends Islam by showing the Prophet Muhammad being cast into the flames of Hell.

The row over The Last Judgment by Giovanni da Modena, in Bologna Cathedral, could threaten the already strained relations between the Roman Catholic Church and members of Italy’s Muslim community.

The recently established Union of Italian Muslims has written to the Pope and Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, the outspoken conservative Archbishop of Bologna, complaining that the fresco shows clearly Muhammad, the founder of Islam, among those condemned to burn in eternal flames.

The protesters said that Giovanni da Modena had shown Muhammad being “thrown into hell, completely naked, with a snake wrapped around his body and a demon next to him about to torture him”. They said that Muslims had never depicted Jesus or the Virgin Mary on the walls of a mosque.

In the letter they called for the “barbarous” fresco to be removed from the wall of the Bolognini chapel, inside the 14th-century cathedral of San Petronio.

In 2002, Al-Qaeda tried to blow up the church:
An Islamist terror group linked to al-Qaida is suspected of plotting to blow up Bologna's most important church to erase the offence of a 15th-century Gothic fresco showing Mohammed being tormented by devils in hell.

A key alleged figure known as "Amsa the Libyan", who was arrested in Britain three weeks ago for possessing false papers, is suspected of having passed orders from al-Qaida leaders in Afghanistan and Iran to terrorist cells in Europe.

The Milan daily Corriere della Sera reported that in a telephone call intercepted by police in February, one of the suspect's alleged associates discussed plans for an attack on the Church of San Petronio, which has a large fresco by Giovanni da Modena showing the founder of the Islamic religion in hell.

The painter was inspired by Dante, who consigned Mohammed to the ninth circle of hell - reserved for religious schismatics - in his Divine Comedy. The fresco, held in a side-chapel, is seen by many Muslims as a symbol of Christian intransigence.

Amsa was monitored as he allegedly passed instructions to al-Qaida cells in Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain. In one intercepted telephone call he apparently discussed an attack on the US embassy in Amsterdam.

Of course, the mainstream media will never get around to publishing a reproduction of a priceless 15th century work of art, so here it is:

And the detail with Mohammed: