What would you say if I were to report that the Grand Mosque of Córdoba, the cultural center of Islam in medieval Europe, was to be transformed into a Christian chapel?
Personally, I think we'd be seeing the usual eruptions, and the backers of such plans would quickly back down.
When this happens in reverse, however, and an historic Christian church is transformed into an Islamic structure, the usual pattern of events is that the transformation does continue, and anyone who expresses opposition to it is tarred as a "xenophobe."
Imagine my surprise, then, to read that in one particular instance, this has not happened. A local group in Genoa, Italy started planning to turn a palace built by Crusaders into a "multi-faith" prayer center, which would be used by the "three" monotheistic faiths on alternating days.
Unlike previous incidents like this, however, the Italians have said "no" quite boisterously. In fact, I couldn't say it better myself, so allow me to quote directly:
A proposal to turn a medieval palace in Genoa founded by Crusader knights into a multi faith prayer centre for Muslims, Jews and Christians has run into opposition from local politicians who say Muslims are "not welcome".
Members of the anti immigrant Northern League - which is part of the centre Right government led by Silvio Berlusconi - said the Genoa council's plan to use the Commenda di Pre for multi faith prayer was unacceptable.
Francesco Bruzzone, a regional councillor for the Northern League, said Muslims had "no business coming" to the hospital and hostel where crusaders and pilgrims had gathered and said mass before leaving for the Holy Land. "This shows a lack of respect for history," Mr Bruzzone said. He said he had been due to go on holiday but instead had decided to stay in Genoa to protest.