On the 13th of December, in my birthplace Florence, an Italian gunman killed two street vendors from Senegal, wounded another three, and committed suicide when the police reached him. The killing was racially-motivated and Gianluca Casseri, 50, was a writer for and member of CasaPound, a neo-fascist group. The Senegalese street vendors he killed (Samb Modou, 40yrs old, and Diop Mor, 54yrs old) lived in Italy for a considerable time and leave behind their wives and children in Senegal. The life of migrants in Italy, in particular for Muslims such as the Senegalese, is known. The xenophobic Lega Nord has built its political reputation on the exploitation of Italians’ frustration with a badly managed migration policy and an increase of refugees. Continue reading
“Hey Abid, why are you here? Do not take anything, okay? I know what your people do.” Aimed towards the ears of a black man whom had just entered, the hoarse voice of Lamin echoed throughout the mosque. The black worshiper left. I turned towards Lamin, an elderly Libyan migrant from Misrata whom I had met recently. I asked if he knew the man whom just left. He replied “no, I do not know him, but I know his people.” I was confused why he called him ‘Abid’. To my natural question of how he knew the man’s name, he replied “all of us in Misrata call blacks Abid. They are fake Libyans, since we are white Arabs. All these Abid are criminals: they steal everything, our jobs, our homes and even lands because Gaddafi likes them”. Abid was a nickname charged with a painful reference to the dark history of slavery, so common in the history of Mediterranean countries. In Libya, the slave trade continued at least until the 1930s, although some cases can still be documented today. Indeed Abid means slave. Continue reading
A tiger cannot change its stripes, nor a leopard its spots, so too have the US, UK, France and Italy appeared to have not learnt very much from previous disastrous interventions within Muslim societies and nations. The revolution in Libya is more complex than a majority of mass media reports, both in the US and Europe, suggest. After an attentive survey of newspaper articles and online news, I can affirm that the public may not be fully informed of the reality in Libya and the dark side of one of the most complex ‘Arab Spring’ revolts. Continue reading
In Italy it is time for the administrative elections. This electoral test has surely, as at beginning Berlusconi suggested, a national value. After the first electoral turn, last week, for Berlusconi things are not so good. In his Milan stronghold, the oppositional candidate, with a clear Communist past, has won the first part of the competition. Berlusconi’s main ally, the xenophobic and Islamophobic Lega Nord, was furious with the result and Berlusconi’s government now has to dance a different Bunga Bunga. The fear that the Left will take control of Milan, the city-symbol of Berlusconism, is enough to convince Berlusconi himself to adopt Lega Nord’s favourite weapon: what I call the ‘Mamma the Turks’ strategy.
Libyan protesters are facing one of the most violent repressions that the wave of Arab revolts have witnessed to date. Yesterday reports of Libyan aircraft and Apache helicopters bombing and shooting the protesters started to circulate. This was just after Gaddafi’s son proclaimed to the world that Libya was not witnessing a revolt against one of the most oppressive and inhuman regimes in North Africa and the Middle East, but rather a civil war. In reality this is a regime that has declared, as many other times before, war on its own population. The question that we may ask, however, is why Gaddafi has preferred the bloodbath to an easy, and wealthy, exit. Many were the options open to him before he started the massacre. Now, of course, few are left. Is Gaddafi just defending his own interests? Is there something more than just a struggle to maintain power? Continue reading
The year 2010 appears to be marked by the ‘war on burqas’ (the Switzerland minarets being an exception). While Belgium has formally moved to ban niqabs and burqas, Italy used regional laws to fine Muslim women using niqabs, and Quebec has imposed a ban for anyone wearing one to enter government places, including hospital and casualty departments (see this article for more information). The majority of European nations, such as France, are still debating the matter. Both politicians and experts recognize that the number of people who wear a face veil (click here to avoid any confusion about them as often happens) on European streets are very few, and in Belgium they are even less than fifty. It would not be so unimaginable to suggest–even starting from my own observations–that today in the west there are more Muslim women wearing miniskirts than face veils.
As many of you know, I am in Singapore enjoying the multi-ethnic and religious diversity of this city-state. I have also enjoyed different styles of communities’ hospitality. All marked by respect for the guest (in my case an evident foreigner) and friendly smiles. Many people here dress in their traditional clothes, their religious symbols, and speak their ethnic languages. Nobody fears the other as everybody is the ‘other’ to somebody else. Singapore can only survive if this delicately balanced harmony is maintained and preserved. To do so, one word is essential: respect.We should be honest, Singapore has its issues and problems. Racism exists, stereotypes are strong, foreigners are not always loved. Yet I live in an ordinary HDB (Public housing), stay with ordinary people and eat at ordinary food stalls, and the degree of ‘respect’ and ‘tolerance’ for the ‘other’ surely is at the highest level I have encountered in a modern society. Continue reading