The mayor of Florence, Dario Nardella, has issued an apology for publicly shouting "Allahu Akbar" after his counterpart in Venice said his city would shoot anyone who yelled the phrase in public.

Allahu Akbar, which translates from Arabic as 'God is great', is an expression that has been reportedly used by radicalised Islamist terrorists during some recent attacks across Europe.

Earlier this week, the mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro, vowed to adopt a shooting policy in his city against anyone who screams "Allahu Akbar".

He made the remarks during a meeting with Nardella in Rimini, where the pair discussed issues of terrorism and illegal immigration in the country.

"Venice is the only city in Europe that arrested four terrorists," Brugnaro was quoted by local news site Il Gazzettino as saying.

"They wanted to plant a bomb at Rialto [bridge], claiming they wanted to go to Allah. We will send them directly to Allah without them having to bomb the bridge," Brugnaro said.

"If anyone screams 'Allahu Akbar' while running in San Marco Square, we will shoot them."

Brugnaro then called for a "naval bloc" to tackle illegal immigration and prevent people from entering the country.

When the meeting was over Brugnaro was leaving the building. However, he was chased by Nardella, who stopped and screamed "Allahu Akbar".

The two mayors then laughed. Someone is also heard asking Brugnaro: "Try and say Allahu Akbar in Venetian."

Nardella also points out that the Imam of Florence was present at the conference.

It is not clear who recorded the video. However, someone behind the camera can be heard saying: "Anyway, I am recording all this."

However, the episode was caught on camera and stirred criticism, prompting Nardella to issue an apology.

"I apologise for some of the expressions recorded in a video [that was] shared online," he wrote on his Facebook page. "It was not my intention to offend anyone, least of all the Muslim community, joke about their religion and recall the tragic facts occurred in the past days."

Nardella was presumably referring to vehicle and knife attacks that killed at least 15 people in Spain on 17 and 18 August.

"Actually, during that video, I was distancing myself from statements on Muslims Brugnano made during the meeting in Rimini. Those who know me and my administration, know the way we talk to all the religious communities, including the Muslim one. This is also proven by the fact we were the first ones in Italy to sign the Citizenship Pact".

The pact is an accord between local authorities and private associations and citizens to promote integration and equal opportunities for all members of society.

Italy has so far been spared from a string of terror attacks that have rocked other countries across Europe.

The latest attack occurred in Spain last week. At least 14 people were killed during a van and knife assault in the popular tourist spot of Las Ramblas, Barcelona, on 17 August.

Police identified Younes Abouyaaqoub, a 22-year-old Moroccan man, as the person who drove the van during the attack.

Abouyaaqoub, who was killed after a days-long manhunt in Spain, was also the alleged ringleader of a 12-strong cell that orchestrated a similar vehicle attack in Cambrils on the morning of 18 August. One person died in that attack.

Isis claimed responsibility for the attack via its news agency Amaq. However, such claims have often come in the aftermath of similar attacks across Europe, and are not always reliable.

Authorities said the cell, now dismantled, had been radicalised by Imam Abdelbaki Es Satty, who is believed to have died in an explosion at a house in Alcanar on 16 August.

Members of the cell were building explosive devices before the attack. Following the incident, they opted to use vehicles instead.

The only four surviving members of the cell were taken to court on 23 August.

Two of them, Mohamed Houli Chemlal and DrissOukabir, were charged with murder, membership of a terror organisation and the possession of explosive. They are being held in prison without bail.

Another suspect, Mohammed Aalla, was released on bail due to weak evidence, while Salah el Karib is still being questions by the police.

Oukabir has always claimed he is innocent in spite of the fact that his documents were found in the vehicle used in the Barcelona attack.

The man, however, maintains that his younger brother – shot dead by police during the Cambrils attack – had stolen his documents to hire the vehicle.

Italy mayors
Florence mayor Dario Nardella (L) laughs with Venice mayor after screaming Allah Akhbar at the end of meeting on terrorism and illegal immigrationYouTube Screenshot