SAIS Next Europe

« Previous Post | Next Post »

The Gaza War's Italian Front

By Patrick O'Brien

Just as the recent Gaza War had repercussions on Israeli politics, it is having effects on Italian politics as well. The war has raised new questions about church-state relations in a country where religion is always touchy.

The Italian front of the Gaza War opened in Milan on January 3rd, with a demonstration to oppose the Israeli incursion into Gaza. A Muslim prayer in the Piazza Duomo followed the demonstration. This square is the highest profile locale in the city as well as the location of the third-largest Catholic cathedral in the world. The authorities had apparently known about the protest, but the prayer in front of the cathedral was spontaneous. A similar event was held in Bologna in front of San Petronio Cathedral. Italian newspapers printed images of several hundred Muslims gathered in front of the churches, praying toward Mecca.

Italy's Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa said he opposes the "para-religious" demonstrations. "What would have happened if a group of Christians gathered together to pray the rosary before Mecca?" he asked. "They probably would have been stoned."
According to the Italian news agency ANSA, La Russa staged a Catholic mass in Piazza Duomo the following Sunday "in order to 'reclaim' the area." So the Italian military's arsenal now includes Catholic prayers, to counter Muslim prayers - of which, in La Russa's words, "there is no need at political events." Interior Minister Roberto Maroni is thus preparing a new directive prohibiting protests in front of religious sites.

Violent protests have occurred recently throughout Europe - for reasons ranging from education reform in Italy to police brutality in Greece to economic woes across the Continent. The Italian authorities naturally are under pressure to keep order and avoid "provocation." But the Gaza demonstrations in Italy were not violent at all. The worst that was reported was protestors shouting slogans comparing Israel to Nazi Germany and burning Israeli and American flags. That's provocative, perhaps, but not violent. And a government ban on demonstrations in front of religious sites would have removed only the most subdued portion of the larger demonstration.

Such a ban would never be respected in other western countries, but in Italy it's seen as a band-aid to the deeper problems of immigration. Muslims - notably Moroccans and Tunisians - make up the largest percentage of new arrivals. Both Maroni's and La Russa's parties - the National Alliance and the Northern League, respectively - have anti-immigrant platforms. To allay Italians' suspicions, these and other politicians in Berlusconi's governing coalition have been seeking ways to reduce the inflow of immigrants and to integrate better those who are already there - by mandating, for example, that imams preach in Italian rather than Arabic.

Interestingly, most of Italy's religious leaders refuse to join the fight. The Archbishop of Milan, while suggesting that some acts by the protestors were decidedly not inspired by religion, refused to condemn the Muslim prayer service, saying that prayer is "an inalienable right." Various Italian Muslim groups have apologized for any offense caused. The most recent demonstration/prayer service was held in front of a decidedly secular symbol - the Roman Coliseum.

Perhaps the supporters of the ban are right: prudence is a virtue, and that includes not "provoking" others unnecessarily. And any religious leaders who both practice and preach prudence should be admired. But right or wrong, it seems that some politicians are motivated out of something other than prudence.

Patrick O'Brien is a graduate student in the Russian and Eurasian Studies program at the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) Bologna Center in Italy. He previously served two years as a volunteer with Peace Corps Albania.

Email the Author | Email This Post | Del.icio.us | Digg | Facebook

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Johns Hopkins University.

Comments (42)

msiddiqu Author Profile Page:

Patrick O'Brien is a little off mark. This was not a Para-religious demonstration. In fact prayer has nothing to do with this specific demnstration. Muslims are supposed to pray 5 times a day. If prayer time comes during the demonstration they will pray in congregation. If the demonstration was at 10am, no one would have prayed. End of the story. Don't make big deal out of it.

As far as Gaza problem is concerned, Italians should have the back bone they will condemn the civilian massacre by Israelis in the false name of security. Italinas, stand up and be heard, don't be cowards.

nanabrown63 Author Profile Page:

Can't we stop for a while living in the past? Look at the real reasons for the upraise of extremism in Islam. Look at how Muslims are vilified, discriminated against, which again fuels more extremism and violence. If you replaced every word in the anti- Muslim post by "Christians" or by "Jews", you would see the extent of bigotry and racism.

People tend to escape to thousands of years back to avoid facing the reality.

The colonial mentality has not left the Western politics nor many of the major media. Corrupt and dictatorial regimes in the Muslim - and in developing countries in general- have been supported -even encouraged. Corruption, repression, outrageous economic and social policies, appalling and low quality educational systems have ended up in unemployment, extreme poverty ,Violence, and extremism.

The responsibility of the state of affairs in most developing countries – I won’t single out Muslim ones- is a shared one. We have a part in that responsibility and we should face it not by discrimination but by more rationality and equity.

abhab Author Profile Page:

Aszik pontificates thus:
“What a shameful lie: Christians would have been welcome in any Muslim worship place.”

You must be kidding. Any non-Muslim approaching within miles of Mecca or Medina, would be stoned to death. As for your prophet praying with the Jews, is it not he who massacred the Quraiza Jews and in his last will ordered the ethnic cleansing of all non-Muslims from the Arabian Peninsula?
To get an idea on how the prophet of the Muslims looked at the People of the Book, meaning Christians and Jews, peruse the document that his successor and father in-law , Omar Khattab, had written to institutionalize the subjugation and humiliation of non-Muslims whose lands they had occupied. Below is a sample cited from the link below :
http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/pact-umar.html -

“We shall not build, in our cities or in their neighborhood, new monasteries, Churches, convents, or monks' cells, nor shall we repair, by day or by night, such of them as fall in ruins or are situated in the quarters of the Muslims.
We shall keep our gates wide open for passersby and travelers. We shall give board and lodging to all Muslims who pass our way for three days.
We shall not manifest our religion publicly nor convert anyone to it. We shall not prevent any of our kin from entering Islam if they wish it.
……………..”

nanabrown63 Author Profile Page:

I don’t understand how people can draw such generalizations about a billion and a half people!!
All religions have that part about brotherhood, honesty, moral straightforwardness , etc. They also have those parts of myths, and conceptions about others. Similarly, religious people can be extremely patient, tolerant and humane, but the opposite is true. Why is Islam singled out from other religions. How many people throughout the World were killed because of Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism or other religion?
Now the question of immigration in Europe is not even religious but mainly cultural and economic. We want people of other countries, Muslims or non Muslims, to open their markets, accept our services, our products – which means less opportunities for their industries and companies to develop or to create goods, and therefore unemployment. At the same time we don’t want those people to immigrate and come to Europe: something is wrong in this logic. I am not even mentioning that we also want to take the skilled and educated of these people, or the fact that European countries economy has been rebuilt after the WWII thanks to immigration.
People are not robots we use and throw away, or dummies we use at our will. Stop being racist and arrogant. Open your minds and respect yourselves and human values and civilizations. The World is changing, people are more aware than they were in the past. You will be losers if you don’t see the reality as it is and adapt positively, PERIOD.

bevjims1 Author Profile Page:

kb26919 wrote: "All mosques built in Europa have been named after people who are warriors and have fought against christians countries and kings in the past.Not one new built mosque is not connected to such a person.That surely is not a sign of a peaceful religion."

You're kidding right? Mohammed himself was a warrior. Jesus was not.

bevjims1 Author Profile Page:

Its times like these when atheists sit back and watch the carnage and then ask, just what are they fighting over? A prayer? Why is it that the Abrahamic religions must always cleanse their societies and fight to "protect" their religion? Don't they see how their actions are completely hypocritical?

MichaelNJ Author Profile Page:

Optimist3:

It’s slightly amusing to watch you declining to “lower yourself to the task of engaging me further”, then instantly proceeding with that task. However, I do appreciate your trying to answer the questions.

As to the substance of your answers, naturally you could not be more wrong. The fact is, it is the Arabs who want Israel free of Jews, and not the other way around. It’s not a question of Lebensraum for them. They have more space than they know what to do with. It is a question of fanatic nationalism mixed with a good deal of racism and religious motivation.

For decades they have been able to push the "resistance to occupation" canard and to convince the world that all they want is to live free in a state of their own. For the Hizbullah the “resistance” rationale has always been bizarre, since they do live freely in a state of their own, so what they are really doing is not resisting but rather meddling in someone else’s conflict. For the Palestinians, the lie has been exposed with Israel’s withdrawal from The Gaza Strip.

If all they really wanted was to live without bombs and with medical care and the rest of your standard whine list which you cut-and-paste everywhere, then one would expect them to stop fighting for territories they have already "freed", and to continue fighting to free territories that are under “occupation”. What is happening in reality is the exact opposite. They have almost completely stopped fighting out of the West Bank and they continue fighting out of the Gaza Strip, where the occupation has ceased 4 years ago. I have no explanation to that, other than that they want to wipe out Israel completely. They keep saying that all the time, their charter says that, their actions say that, and I see no reason to doubt it. Do you? On what basis?

As to the Israelis, what they really want is very simple: To be left alone. Those who leave them alone live without “Bombs, starvation, lack of medicine” and the rest of your cut-and-paste. Evidence: Egypt, Jordan, Syria. Those who don’t leave them alone, live with the consequences. Evidence: The Palestinians and the Lebanese.

If you need any more evidence, please don’t hesitate to let me know. There’s plenty more where this came from (i.e. the real world).

daniel12 Author Profile Page:

On Israel. The land the Jews are now on is their land, and has been their land for millenia. They were driven from their homeland--that is what the diaspora was. And now they are back in their land. Furthermore, the true crime of Israel is not dispossessing the Palestinians of land, but existing in the first place. Mohammed never saw that coming and it is the entire Muslim world that hates Israel. This is why in the '67 war several Muslim nations tried to overwhelm Israel--and the Muslims did vastly outnumber the Israelis. But the Muslims lost and have instead resorted to whining and launching rockets, etc. ever since.

Again: the true crime of Israel is existing in the first place. The Muslims--all of them--despise what they see as a foreign power on what they consider God given Muslim land. In fact the Muslims consider the Israelis something of parasites or a bacteriological infection. The Muslims want to exterminate the Israelis whether by violence or by collapsing the Jewish state through demographics--outbreeding the Israelis. Fortunately the Jews would prefer to be annihilated over having to leave their homeland again. And the Muslims if succeeding in annihilating the Israelis would of course not consider that a holocaust--just like they consider no holocaust having occurred in Germany in world war 2.

What a dysfunctional world the Islamic world is! Everyone is at fault except themselves! There is no other place in the world so incapable of self-criticism as the Islamic world. And perhaps the most laughable thing is assertions by the Muslims that Israel is responsible for the Palestinians being so economically destitute. The truth is the Palestinians have always prefered spending money on weapons and trying to destroy Israel. They make no real effort to improve their economic plight. Look at the Jews! On the same land as the Palestinians but far far ahead economically! And this is because the Jews would rather have a flourishing nation rather than continually fight. But they have to fight because it is the Muslims--and I mean all of them--who will continue attacking Israel indefinitely.

daniel12 Author Profile Page:

To Nanabrown from Daniel. You just unwittingly proved my point: I am not allowed to make a criticism of the Islamic world without being considered full of hate and disrespect. And that I am considered full of hate and disrespect by you of course gives you the excuse to at least laugh if misfortune befalls me--if you do not destroy me yourself.

Furthermore, you again proved my point by saying Muslims do not pray in front of bars and casinos. No people prays in front of bars and casinos. But all of the world except the Muslim world tolerates bars and casinos. And exactly that you mentioned not praying in front of bars and casinos tells me you yourself would not tolerate such if you had control of societies across the rest of the world.

You should be getting a better picture now of exactly why the rest of the world has reservations toward the Muslim world--and the rest of the world is the five sixths which is not Muslim. And I am sorry to say that all the rest of the world cannot possibly be considered full of darkness and ignorance as you attest of me. The Muslim world rather is full of darkness and ignorance. It is commonplace in the Muslim world to have all these conspiracy theories such as the Jews fabricating the holocaust--as if the Jews could have done such a thing in the middle of Germany in world war 2. But that is the absurdity of the Muslim world.

You can make all the excuses you want, but from Bali to New York the Muslim world has struck at the rest of the world. And comparing that to the Irish striking out at England is just absurd. The Irish had no problems with anyone else--and they got over their animosity toward England rather quickly. The Muslim world is at odds with every other aspect of the world and shows no signs of renouncing violence.

But I guess I am just an ignorant man, right?

optimist3 Author Profile Page:

MichaelNJ:
"Is your little mind reeling from trying to deal with this logical challenge? Then let me suggest a simple way to clarify everything. Try to answer this question...If you can answer this question honestly, it will give you a whole new perspective of the situation."

Michael, the arrogance behind this kind of posturing merits no response. The very instant you are able to mature enough to engage a subject without slights, mockery, and insults, I might lower myself to the task of engaging you further. Until then, be satisfied with your prejudices and partisan nonsense in support of actions which cannot be defended with answers to the following:

"What are the goals of the Hamas in this conflict (or the Hizbollah for that matter) and what are the goals of Israel? What is each side trying to accomplish?"

Simple: H&H prefer that Israel stop running roughshod over Arabs with impunity--with support from Americans. (The material theft sixty years ago--to the present day, is a sticking point.) Israel would like more lebensraum, a land free of Arabs to realize Eretz Israel. No dispute there.

Both would like to live without the fear of bombs (*though Arabs would prefer to not suffer from starvation, lack of medicines and medical care, 60% unemployment, dispossession, deprivation of water, and other systematic degradations etc., which are all direct policy outcomes foisted upon them by Israel.)

Comunista Author Profile Page:

nanabrown63-

The problem here isn't the 'big meanie' western globalization stamping down the poor Muslim man, it's that parts of the Muslim world are uninterested in change or progress, yet lash out instead of ignoring it. What's worse, many of them move to very developed, socialized places like Europe, and expect the new culture around them to change to fit THEM. Frankly, it's not even a problem with their personal faith, but their personal culture.

America seems to lack much of this problem, presumably because a different kind of individual (Muslim or otherwise) is typically attracted here, and their work ethic and cultural expectations are often different. America benefits greatly from a significant percentage of its immigrant population, including Muslims, who more readily fold themselves into their new society and contribute back to it; Europe doesn't attract the same caliber of immigrants, and actually loses in the long run, as we're seeing in Italy and elsewhere.

I'm afraid to see what will happen in the long run in Europe if immigrants continue to gather this image of themselves (really, the community does much to tarnish their image in Europe), because as 'progressive' as the various kinds of Europeans generally are, one thing many surprisingly are not is as 'tolerant' as many Americans are of different people.

maddymappo Author Profile Page:

The fanatic "Moslems" (only because they call themselves that) have no respect for the religion or life of others. This is just another example of the contemptious way they would treat non Moslem believers in their own countries. The Koran, unfortunately, does not help on this. While Moslems are supposed to be tolerant, the Koran specifies that non Moslems are to be taxed at a higher rate and non Moslems can even be kept as slaves. These fundamentalists would do the same wherever they live if they held the majority in the government. What is so very exasperating,is seeing so called "liberals" rallying around these violent crazy people and insisting that they are being persecuted.

nanabrown63 Author Profile Page:

To vmw7777777
What about the reverse? Would it suit the West to leave all Muslim countries alone to care for their wealth, business and governments? Who has imposed and profits from globalization? The West can’t both reap the benefits of this globalization, flood the poor countries with multinational corporations, products and services, be exempted from taxes, and at the same time deny people free movement. Actually , this is the crux of the matter. The West can no longer exploit people as they used to do: the logic of globalization has an asymmetric effect, and it simply cannot work. So, just stop this mentality of racism and xenophobia. You want to have your cake and eat it!!

vmw7777777 Author Profile Page:

We Europeans, are sick and tired of muslim arrogance, violence, the billions they cost us in taxes and non-stop racism expressed toward us in the name of allah & mohammed. It is time that they admit something they don't want the world to know: it is BANNED, FORBIDDEN for them to leave the country of their origin according to their quran/koran. I invite them ALL to leave our respective countries throughout the world and return to their own. Maybe, just maybe, they'll be "satisfied" and get their way amongst each other. And don't forget to take all your wives, concubines and dozens of kids with you. And we can all resume to living our blessed and cherished Judeo-Christian lives. Thank you!

nanabrown63 Author Profile Page:

To Daniel12
Thepicture is completely opaque to you. You understand nothing in the Muslim World nor in the World in general. You are surrounding yourself by wall of darkness and hatred for what you do not understand. How can you make generalizations about the sixth of the human population by referring to some acts of despair and terror. Can we say that all Irish people are terrorists because of the IRA attacks, or that a all Basque People are aggressors because of ETA bombs, or that all Jews are criminals because of the Israelis carnage towards Palestinians?
You are showing narrow-mindedness and lack of knowledge of the Islam and Muslims. The act of praying in a place for Muslims is an act of respect, not domination. You won’t find them praying in front of a casino or a bar!!
Try to cultivate knowledge, understanding and tolerance rather than hatred and bigotry. It can make the difference to the human society.

daniel12 Author Profile Page:

The picture is rather clear. For years now I have read comments on sites like this concerning these problems. And what has become obvious is that Muslims--Muslims in general mind you, not extremists--invariably have a different view of events than most Europeans and Americans and Jews. More and more I agree with Samuel Huntington and his theory of a clash of civilizations. Most civilizations perhaps do not clash--Huntington probably is wrong about some civilizations--but Islam with respect to the rest of the world? Huntington was not wrong about that. The Islamic world is the most dysfunctional civilization in the world, at odds with the rest of the world whether aiming at the Western world or at the Eastern world. Whether you want to speak of Buddhist statues destroyed by the Taliban in Afghanistan or the twin towers destroyed in New York, it seems Islam is just at odds with the rest of the world. And her only future seems to be in oil--apart from that the Islamic economies are really nothing to speak of at all.--Which is why Islamic peoples are flooding into Europe. Question: If Islamic countries have such bad economies, why would anyone think that Islamic people flooding into the more successful economies is a good thing? In fact it seems to be a bad thing. Time and again Muslims demonstrate themselves to be at odds with whatever civilization they are in--including their own. What do we make of the Sunnis and Shiites arguing over the successor to Mohammed when anyone with any brains can see Mohammed did not and cannot have any successor? Sunnis and Shiites should put their argument to rest. But will Muslims take this advice? No. It seems they will continue to be at odds with everyone--even themselves for the indefinite future.

jjb1 Author Profile Page:

As a Buddhist, who would love to see peace in the world, I would like to hear some instances where Muslims have devoted themselves to living in peace with loving kindness to all others. The massive killing of innocent Buddhists in Southeast Asia went largely unreported. I find it very difficult to think well of any Muslim. Those Muslim women that I know are routinely treated badly by their male relatives and from what I have read, this sort of disrespect is not only common but advocated. So, which of you can defend Muslim evil?

MichaelNJ Author Profile Page:

optimist3 :

Israel has withdrawn from all of the Sinai in 1981. Pulled out all its civilians and all its military and abandoned all the settlements. Since then, not a single shot has been exchanged between Israel and Egypt.

Israel has withdrawn from all of the Gaza Strip in 2005. Pulled out all its civilians and all its military and abandoned all the settlements. Since then, the fighting has only gotten worse.

If Israel is the aggressor, would you care to explain the reasons for the difference?

And don't give me the crap about the siege and the so-called starvation and lack of jobs and of medical supplies. That is the result - not the cause - of the Hamas attacks on Israel. Chicken and egg, like you said.

Is your little mind reeling from trying to deal with this logical challenge? Then let me suggest a simple way to clarify everything. Try to answer this question: What are the goals of the Hamas in this conflict (or the Hizbollah for that matter) and what are the goals of Israel? What is each side trying to accomplish?

If you can answer this question honestly, it will give you a whole new perspective of the situation.


demtse Author Profile Page:

At least SOME in Europe are not obliged to recognize Israel's zionist moral superiority.

kb26919 Author Profile Page:

All mosques built in Europa have been named after people who are warriors and have fought against christians countries and kings in the past.Not one new built mosque is not connected to such a person.That surely is not a sign of a peaceful religion.

nanabrown63 Author Profile Page:

Muslims and Christians have been living together in the Middle East without problems until the war in Lebanon , which was really political and economic rather than religious.
Muslims pray in a place when they respect the place, not to make it theirs. It wouldn’t offend Muslims to have Christians pray in front of their symbolic religious places, on the contrary, it will show that those Christians acknowledge the holiness of those places and respect Islam.
The holocaust was something terrible in human history and we have to remember it, not only to pity the Jews, but to make sure it does not happen again in any other form. Unfortunately, genocides have happened time and again in different parts of the world. Now the West is carrying a mad campaign against the Muslims, vilifying and stoking hatred and violence against the sixth of the World population. The result has been radicalization of a minority, extremism and more violence. What do you expect words (similar to the ones posted by a certain Thermopylae) lead to?
We have to cultivate tolerance, understanding, and above all a belief in justice, equality and respect among all human beings. There is no chosen people, nor better people than others. We have to rely on universal human values and stick to them rather than go back to ideas and beliefs thousands of years old !!

nanabrown63 Author Profile Page:

To the Editor:

Could I know why my post hasn't been accepted?

nanabrown63 Author Profile Page:

Muslims and Christians have been living together in the Middle East without problems until the war in Lebanon , which was really political and economic rather than religious.
Muslims pray in a place when they respect the place, not to make it theirs. It wouldn’t offend Muslims to have Christians pray in front of their symbolic religious places, on the contrary, it will show that those Christians acknowledge the holiness of those places and respect Islam.
The holocaust was something terrible in human history and we have to remember it, not only to pity the Jews, but to make sure it does not happen again in any other form. Unfortunately, genocides have happened time and again in different parts of the world. Now the West is carrying a mad campaign against the Muslims, vilifying and stoking hatred and violence against the sixth of the World population. The result has been radicalization of a minority, extremism and more violence. What do you expect words (similar to the ones posted by a certain Thermopylae) lead to?
We have to cultivate tolerance, understanding, and above all a belief in justice, equality and respect among all human beings. There is no chosen people, nor better people than others. We have to rely on universal human values and stick to them rather than go back to ideas and beliefs thousands of years old !!

wrotedown Author Profile Page:

In America, our legislators are paralyzed with fear- unable to confront or even discuss the barbaric practises of the Isreali government. Any who dare find themselves running against opponents who are financed to the tune of hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars. The powerful (and immoral) Isreali lobby in the United States goes unchallenged. What has been done to occcupied Palestine is obscene, unholy, brutal and quite horrifying....Tel Aviv has long since lost it's capacity for shame. Barbarians all.

speedyme393 Author Profile Page:

The first Bibel was the Christian Bible, the first book ever written. It contains the First Old]Testament and the Second [New] Testament. The Second started with the Birth of Jezus Christ. The Jews don't believe in the Second [New] Testament because they are the ones that put Jezus on the Cross. So it is more convienned for the Jews not to be reminded of that SIN, for Jezus is the Only Begotten Son of our Creator. Those who follows the Christian [total] Bibel are called Christians, they did not kill The Only Begotten Son of our Creator.

optimist3 Author Profile Page:

MichaelNJ: "No country in the world would sit still and not respond to aggression."

Chicken/Egg:
Land theft, assassinations, torture, more than 700,000 imprisoned over time, disappearances, nightly sonic booms by F16's, theft of entire watersheds, collective punishment, land council rulings without recourse, daily abuse by "settlers", razor wire, harassment, white phosphorous, depleted uranium, siege, starvation, deprivation of basic medical needs, institutionalized racism, ethnic cleansing, systemic discrimination, 60% unemployment, families torn apart, strafe-bombing, and much, much more all with impunity on the part of the munificent Israeli's.

Pray tell, what about the above does not constitute aggression?

Certainly, I agree with the Israeli thugs that the Palestinians should consign themselves to degrading starvation within razor-wire pens. After all, for no reason at all they lob garage-made rockets into "Israel."

optimist3 Author Profile Page:

MichaelNJ: "So the question is, why are the poor defenseless Palestinians constantly attacking the big and powerful Israelis? They could live in peace and prosperity if they stopped attacking the Israelis, but they can’t bring themselves to stop. Does that make sense?"

Frankly, I couldn't care less about either side--although I must admit I admire the success of the Israeli's in having made the world believe that plunder at gunpoint is their national right.

It is extraordinarily mendacious for the fourth most powerful military in the world to run roughshod over a bedraggled mob--and then cry when they fire homemade rockets at thieves who plundered land from them, leaving them destitute and caged.

Israeli's call this "crying and shooting." If the villainy of the Palestinian resistance was so evident, why would Israels defenders feel the need to assert the justice of their cause in lockstep, using talking points, so very often.

Sadly, the mask is off.

mansour112 Author Profile Page:

I think muslims do not consider that a provocation as they consider Jesus as one of their prophets. If the Christians consider that a provocation then muslims should not do it. They should have asked the officials of the church first. The opinion of the minister who is known for his unfriendly attitude towards immigrants and muslims is not the criterion.
I am disturbed by the distortions of the zionists.

whistling Author Profile Page:

Last Thursday the ADL's Abe Foxman told reporters

that Anti-semitism is huge and growing in Europe, and in America. Lots of grafitti, like that in a synagogue in Caracus (which WAPO played in ten stories that day)

30% in Europe, more in America think jews are responsible for the economic crisis. (Considering the polls authors and considering PC, not gone yet, that figure is probably higher.
And certainly will be as the problems get worse.

Dangerous, one would think.

And still, all we get are nasty writers here telling everyone they're dumb, the same old lies and accusations and streaming of insults.
Defending of Gaza and the savages who perpetrated it as the world wretched and demonstrated.

And of course the beginning of a campaign by WAPO that Chavez must go, he who is causing all the opinions here and in Europe, apparently.

Doesn't seem like a good plan to me.

kamdog Author Profile Page:

From the article: Italy's Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa said he opposes the "para-religious" demonstrations. "What would have happened if a group of Christians gathered together to pray the rosary before Mecca?" he asked. "They probably would have been stoned."

The real answer is that they would not be allowed into Mecca at all, and, praying or not, if found there, they would be arrested and probably killed.

zaphod71828 Author Profile Page:

Resonse to asizk's comment:

"The Prophet Muhammad in Medina and over fourteen centuries ago and in his Median Document (Covenant)declared that Muslims,Christians and Jews were all equal citizens of the first City/State in Islam."

Actions speak louder than words, and it is well-documented that the Prophet disposed of Jews by death and exile when they became inconvenient to his whims.

"Gaza"

You mean the "Arab entity."

"Muslims respect all places of worship"

Like the ancient Buddhist statues they couldn't wait to tear down.

"I would recommend a book for both: 'The Lost History' by Michael Morgan"

I would not read any book you recommend, as you have demonstrated your lack of credibility.

"There are no Muslim Equivalents to the Inquisition..."

... except that the Jews were and are discriminated against and harassed in Iran, Iraq, and almost every other Muslim-controlled country. Why do you think the State of Israel exists?

MichaelNJ Author Profile Page:

Optimist3 is afflicted with a syndrom that has originated in the Arab world, spread to the Muslim world at large and has by now infected much of the rest of the world. The most common symptom is tunnel vision, preventing people from seeing what is politically inconvenient to them.

Thus, when they look at the conflict in Gaza, they see two sides: One side is the Israelis, they are big and scary and militarily powerful and heartless, and use “disproportionate” power on others just because they enjoy it. The other side is the Palestinians of Gaza. They are weak and defenseless and poor and miserable and besieged, and so the evil Israelis are happy to pick on them.

So the question is, why are the poor defenseless Palestinians constantly attacking the big and powerful Israelis? They could live in peace and prosperity if they stopped attacking the Israelis, but they can’t bring themselves to stop. Does that make sense?

Yes, it does, because something is missing from this picture, and it’s called Hamas. Just like the Hizbollah were missing from the picture in 2006. All the violence and the misery and the loss of life could have been prevented if the Arabs – in this case the fanatic religious nuts in Lebanon 2006 and in Gaza in 2008 - did not attack Israel.

No country in the world would sit still and not respond to aggression. But the Hamas and the Hizbollah can continue their attacks, safe in the knowledge that they are invisible to the rest of the world, and Israel would be blamed when it retaliates.

mjhonur Author Profile Page:

First of all read the history of the region.. All the religion in the region just experienced peace during the Ottoman reign because of their tolerant.
Then think yourself an Israel citizen. A terrorist organization has been bombing your territory but there is no death. Therefore you invaded their territory and killed babies, women and those who are helpless. Do you feel any hurt,any pain in your heart?
On the other hand, put yourself in a palestenian man. You don't interested in activities of HAmas and you just would like to live a place where belongs to you as used to be. Meanwhile, although you have not any link with HAMAS your all family members were killed, your son died in your arms. Do you have any pain? Who is the right? the Palestenians with harmless "missiles" or the ISrael with their destructive "toys"?
And I fell I have to say that when I was watching news I saw Israel citizes on a picnic ground. They were singing and dancing because PAlestenian babies were killed by their army. It was the time that humanity come to an end... What a pity, To be a human should not be so difficult, only feel the pains..

shahidkamal Author Profile Page:

Peaceful demonstration by the Muslims in Italy led the ministry of Interior to think framing a law to stop a parallel religious gathering near Cathedral. Though, the demonstration was quite peaceful yet it compelled the ministry to be prudent. The demonstration was to tell the world leaders to condemn Zionists atrocities in Gaza, their complete siege of the city and their turning Gaza into a concentration camp. They, in fact, applied Christian ideology of love, compassion and truth by being near to the Cathedral.

ThishowIseeit Author Profile Page:

Nothing in the NT suggests Christians to kill the nonchristians unwilling to convert. Plenty is in the Coram urging to convert or kill the nonbelievers.

coloradodog Author Profile Page:

Pakistan is just another radical Islamic terrorist state that hides our enemies - the Taliban, al-Qeada and Bush family friend Bin Laden.

Why we fuss so much about Iran getting nukes but looked the other way with Pakistan only Cheney knows.

optimist3 Author Profile Page:

MichaelNJ seeks to undermine the shocking mortality rate among Palestinians laboring under an ongoing medieval siege--one which was not eased whatsoever by Israel during the "truce."

Sadly, reported today in major news sources: "Channel 2 cited a report issued by Military Intelligence and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, listing 1,134 Palestinian fatalities."

Shall the lies and distortions asserted by Israel's storm-troop defenders--running roughshod over the "Arab dogs" and "Araboushim" and "two legged animals" ever cease?

MichaelNJ Author Profile Page:

Whether the demonstrators were within their rights or not is for the Italians do decide. One thing is certain: They were demonstrating against the wrong party. Had they bothered to read the report in Corierre Dela Serra, they would have known who was really responsible for the civilians killed. Of course, had they followed the news, they would have known who was responsible for initiating this fighting to begin with. I’m referring to serious news sources, of courses, not to the hysterical screams in the Arab media.

Cremonesi’s report can be found here:

http://www.corriere.it/esteri/09_gennaio_21/denuncia_hamas_cremonesi_ac41c6f4-e802-11dd-833f-00144f02aabc.shtml

The essence of the report is summarized in Haaretz:

“Palestinian civilians have accused Hamas of forcing them to stay in homes from which gunmen shot at Israeli soldiers during the recent hostilities in Gaza, the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera reported Thursday.

More than 1,250 Palestinians were reportedly killed during Israel's offensive against Hamas in the coastal territory. Israel has been harshly criticized for the large number of civilians among the Palestinian dead, of whom they numbered more than half according Gaza officials.
But the Italian paper also quoted a doctor at Gaza City's Shifa Hospital as disputing the number of Palestinians said to have been killed in the campaign.

"It's possible that the death toll in Gaza was 500 or 600 at the most, mainly youths aged 17 to 23 who were enlisted by Hamas - who sent them to their deaths," he said.

13 Israelis were also killed during the 3-week operation, which was aimed at halting rocket fire on southern Israel and destroying Hamas' infrastructure.

The Gaza doctor was further quoted as saying: "Perhaps it is like Jenin in 2002. At the beginning they spoke about 1,500 dead, and at the end it turned out to be only 54 - of whom 45 were militants."

He was referring to the Israel Defense Forces battle with Palestinian militants in the West Bank town that took place during Operation Defensive Shield at the height of the second intifada.”

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1057874.html

maddymappo Author Profile Page:

A great deal of this mounting hysteria has to do with the lopsided European media coverage of the Isreali/Palestinian situation. To protest the Israeli "invasion of Gaza" when it is the fanatical Hamas Gazan government who are daily shooting rockets into Israel and deny its very existence, is the kind of fantastic mass hypnotic effect of the media's uneven handedness in this conflict and inability to grasp and report the facts. As long as the truth is debased into a modern day morality tale regardless of facts, the masses will respond with undop emotionalism and embrass distortions of religious doctrine.

asizk Author Profile Page:

Rome is burning.... with the ignorace and shame of the italian minister:

"Italy's Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa said he opposes the "para-religious" demonstrations. "What would have happened if a group of Christians gathered together to pray the rosary before Mecca?" he asked. "They probably would have been stoned."

What a shameful lie:Christains would have been welcome in any Muslim worship place. This is not new at all:The Prophet Muhammad in Medina and over fourteen centuries ago and in his Median Document (Covenant)declared that Muslims,Christians and Jews were all equal citizens of the first City/State in Islam. He used to fast with the Jews during their fasting periods and would stand and pray when a jewish or christain funeral passed by.

The Muslims in Milan prayed for the over seven thousand murdered and maimed Palestinian civilans including over four hundred infants and childre.Like all faithful,Muslims prayed because of the deep agony and devstation over the victimsed and biseged Palestininas as a result of the jewish savagrey and barbarities on Gaza.

They prayed for the homeless Palestinian refugees who were besiged for two years first then their Concentration Camp Gaza was bombed to the sone age 24/7 for 22 days from the sea,land and air.When the jews ran out of munition,Bush urgently shipped to them 300 20ft conatianers so they finish the job.
So what does prayers which is naturally peaceful,has to do with,Mecca?? The minister's ignorance,bigtroy and narrow-mindidness and even xnophobia and Islamophopia are all appalling.

Muslims respect all places of worship and they call them the hosues of God.Once my late father,a Muslim, went to a nearby churh to attend a baptism of his christain friends'son;then the time for the noon prayers came when his christain hosts insisted that he make his Muslim prayers inside the church and provided a prayer's rug and a quite corner for him to pray.

But that was in the LEVANT,the birth place of true christianity-which is beyond the reach of the ignorant Italian minister who is no different than his racist PM who once said:"his christain civilaization" is superior to that if Islam's.

I would recommend a book for both:" The Lost History" by Michael Morgan-which shows how The Caholic Church persecuted Galillio when Muslim civilization was at its zinith.

There are no Muslim Equivalents to the Inquisition,Two World Wars,the holocaust,the Genocide of Bosnian Muslims in the heart of "civilized"Europe and no nuking of Heroshima and Negagazaki.

St_Satan Author Profile Page:

This article simply confirms the points that:

1. Italians aren't sure if they want to be modern Europeans or a bunch of weak-minded superstitious vassals of the pedophelia-loving Vatican led by the former Hitler Youth volunteer, Cardinal Ratzinger who calls himself Pope Benedict XVI.

2. The Talebans, Hamas, Zionists, Pakistanis and all those who define themselves by the primitive Jewish fairy tale of Adam and Eve and the talking Snake [Ha! Ha!!] will continue to retard the march of civilization as religion and the Vatican has done for thousands of years.

Finally, as long as Italians choose to listen to the foolish rants of Mr. Ratzinger, um, Mr. Benedict XVI [or whatever pompous title who chooses to confer on himself], Italy will remain a shaky democracy ruled by lunatic Mussolinis, sexually perverted priests, fake Mafiosi, and clownish Belusconis.

Ah, Rome is dead and in its place, the city of political plebians that is modern Italy!

RizwanAhmed1 Author Profile Page:

This writer wrote "Perhaps the supporters of the ban are right: prudence is a virtue, and that includes not "provoking" others unnecessarily"

Muslims are intentionally, systamatically provked by organized organizations, in the name of "Freedom of Speech" all the time.

Start from Salman-Rushdee ...............

PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and washingtonpost.com, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send us your comments, questions and suggestions.