Copro Berlin Eng
17 October 2017

NapolIslam

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NapolIslam

NapolIslam

NapolIslam

original title:

NAPOLISLAM

directed by:

cinematography:

music:

Marzouk Mejri, Danilo Marraffino

production:

country:

Italy

year:

2015

film run:

75'

format:

colour

status:

Ready (18/02/2015)

festival & awards:

The strength of Islam is not in bombs and terrorism, but in its ability to convert people. The numbers of converts are steadily rising and the message of the Quran has also come to Naples, a great sea port that has always been open and sensitive to  the changes of history. This is a city where a mixture of culture and religion can produce unexpected situations of change and metamorphosis. And so it might just happen that one day Naples wakes up and finds out that it has become Islamic, and so behind the long beards of the young men and the Muslim veils of the girls there are no longer only immigrant Arabs, but  genuine born and bred Neapolitans, the children of Catholics, who were Catholics themselves until a few years before. Their names are different now: Francesco has become Mohammed Muahammad and Claudia has become Zeynab, while also Naples has become Napolislam. Its churches still exist, but numbers of Christians are diminishing. Mosques have been  established in other deconsecrated churches, for example on the central square of Piazza Mercato. Some activists have even deserted the ranks of the extremeleft movements that are now undergoing a deep crisis. Salvatore has become Mohammed and he now prefers the Prophet Muhammad to Che Guevara, because he has understood that the only way to bring justice to society is to introduce Sharia Islamic law. Napolislam is at the centre of the Mediterranean and when Arabs set foot here they feel at home. Walid came from Algeria and married Alessandra, who now has the Arabic name of Amina. Her mother Francesca is still unable to accept it and when Alessandra shows her how to wear the hijab she is upset, although she must admit that these kinds of head-scarves are becoming increasingly fashionable. In Piazza Mercato, however, everyone has got used to Islamic customs. Every Friday the street in front of the mosque is covered with carpets. Above, hundreds of unshod men are waiting for the sermon of Imam Yassin, once known as Agostino Gentile. Now his prayers in perfect classical Arabic are popular all over the province of Naples, where mosques are sprouting up like mushrooms. The Toy Stores in Piazza Mercato, still devoted to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, are forced to admit that the Islamic religion is stronger: they even stop working to come to prayer, as if there was enough work in Naples for everyone. Francesco knows that this is not the case and he is leaving the city to find a job in London. Now he is called Muhammad and he hides his tattooed arms under the qamis, the white robe that observant Muslims wear. In his poor house in the Sanità district Francesco recites the Quran in
Arabic, moving his long black beard and to the rhythm of a melodious chant. His sisters, impressed by the change in him, now hang on his lips. Francesco used to think only about women, sunlamps and designer shoes: all of which he now knows were Satan’s tricks to lead him astray, as he explains at the dinner table to his sister Teresa. Now she too has started to read the Quran and to say the prayers, but she has not started wearing a veil because otherwise everyone in the neighbourhood would think she was crazy. The husband of Lina, Francesco’s other sister, has left her and she lives with her teenage daughter and makes a living by sewing shirt collars for ten hours a day in the living room. She also finds relief in praying with her “face to the earth”, because Islam means submission to God. A kind of submission that brings order and morality into a society that is unjust and corrupted by consumerism, gambling and lascivious customs. In fact Dino Muhammad’s mission is to make all the customers of his barber’s shop understand this message. His wife and children have already followed his example by converting to Islam. It is another matter for the wife of Giovanni Yunis: she simply does not believe in this Islam. In fact she does not believe in God anymore, because if God existed he would not allow people to kill in his name, as the terrorists did in Paris. But, according to Danilo Ali, the attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo has nothing to do with Islam. He tries to explain this to the people, and in fact he has always invoked Allah (not in Arabic but in the Neapolitan dialect) in his hip hop songs. He often goes looking for God in his secret place under the piers and buttresses of the main ring-road of Naples. He looks up at the sky between the concrete structures and writes down verses of a new song in his notebook: pe’ sta a sto munn – he writes –’ e’ sapé campà, bismillah”. (To be in this world you have to know how to live, in the name of Allah). Napolislam is also the city of Naples looked at from the perspective of the Islamization of Europe, a phenomenon with which we are all having to deal with. A video-camera observes the daily lives of these converts and records the small and big clashes of civilization inside the home; the internal dramas and the intimate confessions. This is
a mosaic of different stories, sometimes tragic and sometimes comic, all of them different, yet united by people’s need to react to a spiritual and economic crisis that is now affecting all of our society. This film represents a look at the relationship between Islam and Europe on a more intimate level and leads us to ask ourselves why the religion revealed by Mohammed is slowly winning over the hearts and minds of so many people in the West.