Genoa Vehemently Rejects Mosque Construction
Italians have never been racist people, probably due to their strong Christian roots. The religion says that men are all created equal, but nonetheless nowadays it seems that Italians have forgotten this precept.
One of the first black football players on Italy's national football team, Mario Balotelli, is the victim of offensive choruses and slurs every week. You could say that it is only the degenerate behaviour of an extremist fringe of people, but my concern is real and became solid as a rock a few days ago in my hometown of Genoa.
A referendum promoted by Lega Nord (a right-leaning party, part of the PDL coalition guided by Silvio Berlusconi and is notoriously against immigrants) ruled against the construction of a mosque in the city with some ridiculous results. The vote was 49 Yes, 5,228 No.
The numbers speak for themselves and shine new light on the relations between locals and Muslim immigrants. What is strange to me is trying to understand where this hate and fear came from. Politics undoubtedly plays an important role in setting up a climate of constant insecurity, especially during elections. But that doesn't completely explain how a country at the top of the European security charts, that never experienced Islamic terrorism, and has a very young immigration tradition could be so afraid of a mosque.
Nevertheless I think that bad information through TV programs is the main issue with which we have to deal. In Italy most of the citizens convey a very stereotyped view of the immigrants, especially Muslims.
Despite this referendum, however, I'm still convinced that Italians can find a way to recover their original spirit, made of hospitality and open to a constructive multicultural dialogue.