Among the parents and students of the Pioltello institute which closes for the end of Ramadan: “This is already our normal”

At 4:30 p.m., the last bell of the day rings at the Iqbal Masih multipurpose institute in Pioltello, in the province of Milan. Primary school children join their parents, grandparents and uncles in the space in front of the school. The first day of the week has passed, students can return home. The controversy surrounding the closure set for April 10, Eid-El-Fitr, to allow Muslim students and their families to celebrate the end of Ramadan does not concern them. “It's only been a day, we don't understand what the problem is,” say five sixth and seventh graders sitting on a bench outside the building, in disbelief. The unanimous message is that “there is nothing wrong with stopping classes”. An extra day of celebration, nothing more. The controversy, they say, is entirely external. “It’s adult stuff,” they joke. He slips between the benches of politics and remains attached to speeches that are often disconnected from their context. If she had gone deeper, she would have become aware of the reality that they live every day in the Institute. This was underlined by the director, Alessandro Fanfoni, who remained silent for fear of the “threats and insults” he received “after having applied a resolution of the collegial bodies lived in complete tranquility”, he said. reiterated to Open. This is confirmed by the majority of parents, mothers and fathers who saw the wave of unwanted popularity coming.

“Politics should deal with schools that are falling into disrepair”

In front of the doors are two Syrian mothers, in Italy for more than thirty years, who fought “to break down divisions and integrate into the urban context,” they tell us. “We could talk about many other things, much bigger than a public holiday, which do not work: the schools which are falling into disrepair, the dilapidated classrooms where our children study – explains one of them – . “The economy on its knees, the lack of economic support for families in difficulty”, he insists. And rather: “what is the point of politics? Plead for a day of closure. The director – he continues – had the possibility of adding closing days and he did so. If he had chosen the date of Thanksgiving, or Halloween, no one would have intervened. Whoever has, or should have, the power to express himself must know the context,” he concludes. And the context speaks for itself: we see it in the streets of the Milanese municipality where the number of foreign residents exceeds 20 percent. And within the Institute dedicated to Pakistani children which has become a symbol of the fight against child slavery where 40 percent, out of a total of 1,300 children (divided into three schools: two nursery schools, three primary schools, one middle school) , he is of Islamic faith. Hence the decision to close the doors for the end of Ramadan. On the other hand, in other years, teachers – who decided to follow the “line of silence” like their superiors – found themselves with half-empty classes.

Parents and grandparents clash over closure

The students' parents have conflicting opinions. But most of them, whatever their religious beliefs, defend Fanfoni's choice. “I agree with the manager. I am neither Catholic nor Muslim – says another mother after leaving school. But if our children stay at home over Christmas or Easter, it is only fair that the celebration of the end of Ramadan is also respected. And then it's only one day.” “I'm happy with the decision – said a grandmother from Pioltelle -. Muslims respect our 15 days of celebration at Christmas, we should respect theirs.” Two other Lombard grandparents, sitting in front of the Institute gate, had a different opinion. “Our granddaughter often comes home hungry because she is forced to eat things she doesn't like, like couscous. They have to guarantee different menus for the students”, emphasizes the grandmother. “It's not just April 10, there are other problems here. Pioltello hasn't been the same for several years”, intervenes the husband.

The controversy was raised by MEP Silvia Sardone of the League, who described the decision of the teaching staff as “worrying”, while for Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, it was “an unacceptable choice , contrary to the values, identity and traditions of our country. This is not the model of Italy and Europe that we want”, we read. The controversy will be closed by a revision decided by the Minister of Education Giuseppe Valditara, who invited everyone to “have more serenity”, explaining that “schools cannot introduce new holidays”. But it will still be up to “the regional school office – continues the minister – to assess whether the decisions taken by the institute comply with the law or not”. And while the whole world debates the closure, between politicians fighting with tweets on one side and parents clashing over the issue on the other, students, whether unconscious or conscious, continue to play in the square in front of the school. ).

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