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  • 3 Facts about Italy and Terrorism

    Learn more about Italy's part in the war on terror ahead of a trip to the homeland or out of concern for loved ones who live there
    Our Paesani

    By Francesca Di Meglio

    It just might be the end of the world as we know it. If you're anything like me, you have been glued to the television news and reading newspapers and magazines seeking to understand why Islamic extremists want us all dead. What is it about our lifestyle that they find so offensive? More importantly, what can I do to protect myself and my family and get over the anxiety that comes with constant fear?

    While I'm living in the United States just outside of Manhattan, many of my friends and family are back in Italy. And we are all facing the same dangers. In the wake of the Nov. 13, 2015 terrorist attacks on Paris, people have suggested that Islamic extremists were launching war on the joie de vivre or joy of life.

    After all, the French are all about eating great food, drinking fine wine, making love, and having fun. Sound familiar? Of course it does. The joie de vivre sounds exactly like Italy's dolce vita. In fact, the French and the Italians like to outdo one another when it comes to living the good life – and they're both pretty great at it. The terrorists hate that. Indeed, they have waged war on our culture.

    They gunned down innocents as they were enjoying a meal at a restaurant and listening to music at a concert hall. They tried to bomb the stadium while people were taking in a soccer game, the world's pastime. It was an assault on all the good things. Now, we're left to combat them. That has left me wondering what role Italy, the land of “making love and not war” will have in these efforts.

    In conducting research, here is what I've learned about Italy and the war on terror:

    1. Rome and the Vatican are targets. Shortly after the attacks, U.S. intelligence informed Italy about credible threats to Rome. It also told American travelers about possible dangers. In fact, Italy, along with Kosovo, recently detained four men in a terror plot possibly aimed at the Pope and a former U.S. ambassador to Kosovo, according to ABC. Officials have said that the weapons discovered in that raid indicated that this cell could have taken action. Dec. 8, 2015 marks the start of the Pope's Jubilee year with the theme of mercy. The Jubilee is a 700-year-old tradition in which Catholics spend just under a year renewing their relationship with God and seeking forgiveness of sins, according to Yahoo News. While there is no knowledge of a specific and credible threat, the country is on high alert, and the Jubilee brings with it special concerns for security. Jihadists have promoted their desire to eliminate the Pope and Westerners, in general, and these events, which attract groups of tourists, who will gather together, could be vulnerable.
    2. Italy is cracking down on clandestine mosques. As I understand it, Italy allows religious organizations, such as churches and mosques, to exist with proper documentation, specifically licenses that cost money. Previously, some religious groups have met secretly to avoid those kinds of regulations and costs. But there is growing fear that these underground mosques are breeding grounds for radicalizing believers. So, the government is closing unregistered mosques. Many have criticized the decision because it's limiting religious expression in a country that has 4 official mosques and 800 places of worship for Muslims, but has 900 Christian churches in Rome alone. Just as Americans are wondering out loud about the treatment of Muslims, the majority of whom are not terrorists, Italians are asking similar questions, according to International Business Times.
    3. The Italian P.M. is proposing culture as a line of defense. Leaders the world over are telling their people to continue to live their lives despite the threats because if we stop going to restaurants or concerts or soccer games because we're scared of an attack, we are letting the terrorists win. So, Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi is proposing investing in efforts to ease tension in parts of Italy where the newly growing immigrant population is clashing with natives and offering up money – about 500 euro – to 18 year olds, so they can attend special events, such as concerts.

      "What happened in Paris signaled a step-up in the cultural battle that we are living," Renzi said as reported by Time. "They imagine terror, we answer with culture. They destroy statues, we love art. They destroy books, we are the country of libraries."

    Di Meglio uses the written word to help families create memories and stick together. You can follow her on Facebook at Francesca's Newlyweds Nest and on Twitter @ItalianMamma10.

    Article Published 12/07/15


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