The three new ‘I’s of Italy: Ignorance, Intolerance and Injustice

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

Italy: do not ask for a mosque but rather smoke your daily weed

It would be a good news, among the bad, if you were a Baye Faal Muslim of Gambia and, with your Muslim Rasta dreadlocks and ready to enjoy your daily dose of wisdom weed. Indeed, today you would have come to know that the Italian State, controlled by not-so-post fascist parties, may not allow you to have a real mosque to pray in, and oppose your constitutional right to have your freedom of religion respected, but recognise your right, as Bayee Faaal Muslim, to have your Afghani weed.
Today the Italian Cassazione (High Court) has decided that Rastafarians are allowed to posses and smoke high quantities of Marijuana (read here for an English short version of the story) despite the very restrictive Italian law. Continue reading