Here is the work of an unknown Italian artist, representing a Muslim and his hate for our civilization….No, oops, sorry…it is not a Muslim, it is a Jew. Well, to correct the mistake, this is an unknown Italian artist in 1941 representing the Jewish domination of America, in particular New York City, recognizable here by the Statue of Liberty and the New York City skyline. You can see this anti-Semitic wartime poster at the Florida Holocaust Museum. Today in Italy, the traditional fascist hatred of the Jew is increasingly substituted by a hatred of Muslims, all of them, children, women and men. Today Muslims in Italy are not so differently represented as their Semitic brothers were during the time of the Fascio and the Eia Eia alala.

To be a Muslim and live in Italy, particularly in the north of the country, politically dominated by the far-right parties Lega Nord (North League, a secessionist party) and Alleanza Nazionale (National Alliance, the bigger post-fascist party), is not just difficult, it is a nightmare. Recently discrimination against the Italian Muslims as well as varoous immigrants has risen to an unacceptable level for a European country subscribing to, and strongly supporting, the European Convention for Human Rights. I have to admit that if any other European country, such as France, the UK or Germany, would dare to discriminate against their Muslim population as Italy is currently doing, they would face a political as well as social backlash.

Many are the examples of negative attitudes of Italians towards Islam and Muslims in general. One of the best voices to represent such phobia is surely the late Oriana Fallaci, very much a product of that vociferous populism of religious and cultural hatred which the new fascist movement Lega Nord engenders among Italians. I have discussed Oriana’s hysterical fear of Islam in another post. Yet since the case of the Mosque and Islamic centre planned for Colle di Val d Elsa, near Siena, other cases have seen Italian politicians and ordinary people crying, in the melodramatic style characteristic of certain genres of Italian drama, ‘Mamma li Turchi’ (‘Mother the Turks are coming’). Of course, in the country of the Mortadella, Parma Ham and spice sausages, the protests against Muslims have often seen pigs (both living and dead) paraded, in the hope that the ‘contamination’, like garlic for vampires, would keep away the Mohammedans, or Islamists (as Italians insist on calling Muslims) away. Therefore, if in Colle Val d’Elsa, locals pelted Muslims with sausages and dumped a severed pig’s head at the site. In Bologna a former minister of the Italian republic, Mariella Mazzetto, has organised a pig parade, which succeeded in convincing Bologna Mayor Sergio Cofferati, a former communist leader of the most powerful trade unions, to stop the construction of the mosque.

Despite the protests of some Italians, who are disgusted by the level of discrimination that Muslims suffer in the attempt to respect their faith, local councils and right-wing Mayors, as well as conservative sections of the Catholic Church, continue their crusade against a majority of ordinary, law-abiding and hard working Italian Muslims. Hence, we can read in the article published by AKI (Adnkronos International)

Bepi Zambon, former tennis champion and owner of the exclusive Tennis Club Zambon has allocated two courts for local Muslims to worship on – one for men and the other for women.

But on Wednesday, the Muslim festival of sacrifice Eid al-Adha, shortly after 300 Muslims had arrived at the tennis club for prayers, local traffic wardens and firemen showed up, as well as an anti-terror police officer.

They began rigorously inspecting parked cars and fire exits at the club and asking for documents, on strict instructions to write up any infractions and issue fines mercilessly.

The traffic wardens had been sent to the tennis club by anti-immigrant Northern League politician and deputy mayor of Treviso, Giancarlo Gentilini. Three years ago he invoked a 1975 public order law and ordered police to arrest women wearing the Islamic burqa in Treviso.

The tennis courts are currently the only prayer area for Muslims in Treviso. They last month lost a prayer space allocated them inside a local church in the Ponzano district of Treviso after this sparked controversy, and were evicted from their mosque in Villorba in the province of Treviso.” We can read in the Italian newspaper, La Republica, that, though no crime has been discovered, the prayer area has been closed, and Muslim forced to prayer in the street, where they, of course, can be arrested for illegal congregation (one of the many Mussolini’s laws still valid in the republic).

Gabriele Marranci

Part Two to follow.