Muslims stage protest prayers near Rome's Colosseum
Hundreds of Muslims offered Friday prayers near Rome's Colosseum to protest at the closure of mosques and other places of worship in Italy.
The prayer demonstration was staged over what they see as unfair restrictions on freedom to practise their faith in the country, according to organisers who called the protest following the recent closure of five makeshift mosques on administrative grounds.
Worshippers knelt on prayer mats and tarpaulins on the pavement metres away from the ancient amphitheatre. Some held placards reading "Peace" and "Open the mosques".
Many Italian Muslims suspect local authorities are responding to a climate of mistrust caused by recent attacks in Europe by closing down the places of worship on the grounds of easily resolved problems, such as the number of toilets on a particular premises.
The protest was organised by a Bangladeshi group, Dhuumcatu, which has complained that Muslim places of worship in Rome have been branded illegal by authorities for various building violations.