Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Italian Making Capital out of Terror

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Italian Making Capital out of Terror

Article excerpt

Byline: ZOE WILLIAMS

IF someone had told us two weeks ago that the most dangerously inflammatory remarks about the current crisis would come from Italy, that would have been something of a surprise - not because its president, Silvio Berlusconi, is known for his easygoing attitudes, just because there were so many other more likely candidates. Yet, as it stands, even the ceaseless wartalkers of America have been scrupulously careful not to call this a clash of civilisations.

Everyone has stressed the difference between regular Islam and fundamentalism. Every government has called upon its people not to confuse the Muslims in their neighbourhood with the suicide bombers. Everyone except Berlusconi who, on a short trip to Berlin, managed to squeeze in the following thoughts - that Western civilisation is supreme and superior; that we ought to recognise our "common Christian roots"; that Western society is distinguished by a respect for the "civil and political rights of our citizens and tolerance of everything"; and that there is a "strange unanimity" between Islamic terrorism and the anti-globalisation movement.

A lot of this sounds like no more than the babblings of an unsound mind - if this turns into a war between Christianity and Islam, it won't just mean the end of the world, it will leave an awful lot of us without any side at all (atheists, we're called). I wonder if we could be assigned our own country somewhere, to hide out until the clash of faiths has worn itself out. Boasts of toleration and respect for citizens are absurd coming from a man whose police force, in Genoa, shot dead a protester armed only with a fire extinguisher and beat up countless others, just two months ago.

But let's look at this "strange unanimity" between the anti-globalisation movement and Islamic terrorism. The former would not sanction the killing of thousands of civilians, whether they were bankers or not; the latter would, and did. That's a pretty big difference, considering terrorism is defined by its murderous agenda. …

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