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'Muslim women live in terror …' (updated)

18 agosto, 2006 8 commenti

After the killing in the northern Italian city of Brescia of a young Pakistani woman by her own family, Adnkronos International reports that in a letter to Italy’s Interior Minister Giuliano Amato, the female president of the Confederation of Moroccans in Italy, Souad Sbai, is urging to put violence against Muslim women on the agenda of the government-appointed advisory body on Islamic affairs (the “Consulta Islamica”):
"Muslim women live in terror, yes in terror! The Consulta’s next meeting must tackle the problem in Italy, starting with the case of Hina Saleem, killed by her father because she wanted to be an Italian," Sbai wrote in the letter.
In the letter, seen by Adnkronos International (AKI), Sbai, who has studied the problems of Muslim women in Italy
, asked how many more women would die in the name of Islam.
"We have seen from the episode of the young Pakistani woman murdered in Brescia how religion can become a state within a state and Islamic law be inculcated in the minds of many Muslim parents who live in our country by self-styled, uneducated preachers (imams), " Sbai stated.
Hina’s father, Mohammad, apparently cut her throat last week in Sarezzo after she repeatedly refused an arranged marriage to a cousin in Pakistan
. The 20-year-old woman was romantically involved with an Italian, had gone to live with him, worked in a pizzeria and wanted to become an actress.
"These imams are religious extremists who accord women no rights," Sbai stressed. For years, they have been operating from makeshift mosques in garages or Halal butchers’ shops, have fanned misogyny, have terrorised immigrant Muslim communities and have retarded their integration, she said.
"Minister, for how long much must we continue to turn a blind eye on a situation that harms our women, who are forced to endure this type of abuse? Must we wait for further violence, more segregration, and see more Muslim women being humiliated and even have their throats slit?" Sbai asked.
"Must Muslim women have to endure polygamy, even if this is prohibited by Italian law? Must they be slaves under the sexist or paternalist yoke of extremists? Those who arrive in Italy
are immured in their homes and often subjugated by the ignorance in which they are kept," Sbia said.
She claimed Muslim women’s documents are being confiscated by their husbands or fathers when they get to Italy
, which forces them to live clandestinely and prevents them from being able to bring domestic violence charges against male relatives. Sbai denounced the forced return of Muslim girls at 14 or 15 years of age to their countries of origin to become victims of arranged marriages.
"The objective is to prevent these girls from becoming Westerners, not just through gaining citizenship but above all through embracing Western societies’s shared values of liberty and democaracy. These girls have no country that protects them: they are immigrants in Italy
and foreigners in their countries of origin," Sbai stressed.
Following the apparent ‘honour killing’ last week of Hina, 20, allegedly by her father, Muhammad, Amato has signalled that tougher rules may be needed for Italian citizenship, for which Muhammad – a legal resident in Italy since 1989 – had recent applied.
Amato said immigrants wanting Italian citizenship must demonstrate they uphold human rights and respect for women – not just swear loyalty to the Italian constitution as required by the government’s new citizenship bill due to be debated by the Italian parliament next month. Hina disappeared last Thursday and last Saturday was found buried beneath the family home in Sarezzo, facing Mecca
with her throat cut. Muhammad has been arrested in connection with her murder and has reportedly confessed to killing his daughter.
Police investigating Hina’s killing are searching for her-brother-in-law and have also detained her uncle. They suspect Hina her father may not have acted alone in planning and carrying out her murder. The slaying has shocked Italy
and has been condemned by Muslim community leaders.
Hina’s boyfriend, Giuseppe Tempini, a carpenter has reportedly tried to commit suicide since her death.

UPDATE: Sunday, August 20, 2006.  See also The Independent and ZENIT – The World Seen From Rome.

Categorie:somewhere in italy

A secular saint?

13 agosto, 2006 6 commenti

There is a debate now going on in Italy: was Tiziano Terzani a secular saint, a Guru, or even “the lay Pope?” Terzani (see Wikipedia and The Guardian), before wearing a long white beard and robe and living in an Indian ashram, was a former war correspondent and an expert on China and Japan—he wrote for Der Spiegel, Corriere della Sera and La Repubblica—who covered wars from Vietnam to Afghanistan.
 
Terzani’s last book, La Fine è Il Mio Inizio (The End is My Beginning), has become this summer’s bestseller in Italy. The title speaks for itself: imbued with oriental mysticism raised to the level of keys to life, and in spite of any institutionalised forms of religion, the book is about the harmony of opposites, communion with nature, and other issues of Indian philosophy and spirituality. Is it—as argued by its mostvehement detractors—“a confused mixture of Oriental philosophy, Marxism and Christianity?” Are Terzani’s Catholic opponents right when they accuse him of “leading people astray?” Be that as it may, but Terzani’s website has been indundated with admiring e-mails …

Fond of Gregorian chant? Good times are coming back again!

27 giugno, 2006 Lascia un commento

Are you Catholic and fond of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony? Good news at last! Something can help
you stay in high spirits: good times are coming back again. But let’s try to be methodical.

Benedict XVI, who is highly competent in the area of sacred music, is also known as severely critical of what he considers the degradation of music following the Second Vatican Council. The Pope has written on a number of occasions that he wants to restore to the Catholic liturgy the great music that “from Gregorian chant passes through the music of the cathedrals and polyphony, the music of the Renaissance and the Baroque, to Bruckner and beyond.”

In a message to the participants at the congress of the Vatican Congregation for Worship, hold  on December 5 2005, he encouraged them “to reflect upon and evaluate the relationship between music and the liturgy, always keeping close watch over practice and experimentation.” In turn, in the same occasion, cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Worship, criticized the musical fashions found in many churches, which he characterized as “chaotic, excessively simplistic, and unsuitable for the liturgy.”
 
As Italian Vaticanist Sandro Magister reported, during that congress

  
[m]usicians and liturgists of the postconciliar “new direction” found themselves constrained to justify themselves before an audience mostly oriented toward reviving traditional liturgical music, and Gregorian chant in the first place.

One could gather this from the strong and confident applause that greeted the addresses delivered by Dom Philippe Dupont, abbot of Solesmes and a great cultivator of Gregorian chant, by Martin Baker, choirmaster of the cathedral of Westminster, and by Jean-Marie Bodo, from Cameroon, “where we sing Gregorian chant every Sunday at Mass, because it is the song of the Church.”

But one could gather this above all from the applause that punctuated and concluded the address by monsignor Valentino Miserachs Grau, president of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music in Rome, the liturgical-musical “conservatory” of the Holy See, which has the task of training Church musicians from all over the world.

With concise and concentrated arguments, Miserachs argued forcefully on behalf of the revival of Gregorian chant, beginning with the cathedrals and monasteries, which ought to take the lead in this rebirth.

And he called upon the Church of Rome finally to act “with authority” in the area of liturgical music, not simply with documents and exhortations, but by establishing an office with competency in this regard, as it did for example with the pontifical commission dedicated to the Church’s cultural heritage.

“This is the opportune moment, and there is no time to waste,” Miserachs concluded, clearly referring to the reigning pope.

 
Ok, this happened six months ago. Where are the good news? Here:
 
the concert conducted in the Sistine Chapel, on Saturday, June 24, by maestro monsignor Domenico Bartolucci.
With this concert, Benedict XVI has symbolically restored the Sistine Chapel to its true maestro. Because the famous chapel is not only the sacred place decorated with the frescoes of Michelangelo, it also gives the name to the choir that for centuries has accompanied the pontifical liturgies.
Maestro Bartolucci was named the “perpetual” director, the director for life, of the Sistine Chapel by Pius XII in 1959. Under this and later popes, he was an outstanding interpreter of the liturgical music founded upon Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony. But after a long period of opposition, in 1997 he was dismissed and replaced by a choirmaster thought to be more fitting for the “popular” music dear to John Paul II.
Bartolucci’s replacement was the finishing stroke of the almost complete elimination of Gregorian chant and polyphony as desired by the authors of the postconciliar liturgical reform.
At the time, the only significant figure in the Roman curia who came to Bartolucci’s defense was Ratzinger, for reasons that were both musical and liturgical, as he explained in essays and books.
His positions then were isolated. But with his election as pope, Ratzinger immediately indicated his intention to proceed, in the liturgical and musical field, with what he calls “the reform of the reform.”

The new Bank of Italy

13 giugno, 2006 Lascia un commento


In a speech at the presentation at
Rome‘s city hall of Elena Polidori‘s book, Via Nazionale. Splendori e Miserie della Banca d’Italia, Italian Interior Minister Giuliano Amato said that

 

[t]he Bank of Italy has experienced its worst period, now with Mario Draghi it is recovering its prestige but it will not be as it used to be, it cannot be a sacred institution anymore, we need secularisation. Italy no longer needs a sacred institution, but a serious and reliable central bank that will efficiently carry out its institutional duties, led by a governor, not a saint.”

 

With regard to former Governor Antonio Fazio, and reminding that “Draghi’s predecessor talked a lot,” he added:

 

“Alan Greenspan once said to me: ‘Why do you speak so much? I only speak once a year before Congress.’" (Source: AGI-Italy On Line)

Categorie:somewhere in italy

Why the Left has lost its way


A seminar was held in Rome last week (on May 31) to discuss the reasons why the Left has forgotten its own principles. The speakers at the seminar were Paul Berman, Christopher Hitchens, John Lloyd, Piero Fassino (general secretary of the Democrats of the Left), and Adriano Sofri (former leader of the far Left Lotta Continua).
 
Organized by the Italian daily newspaper Il Foglio, whose director Giuliano Ferrara—“the closest thing Italy has to a neoconservative,” as John Lloyd (Editor of the New Statesman and a writer for the Financial Times) puts it—introduced the seminar, the event was occasioned by the publication of Cambiare Regime: la sinistra e gli ultimi 45 dittatori (Regime Change: the left and the last 45 dictators), a book by Christian Rocca, the US correspondent of Il Foglio.
 
The account of the seminar given by a special correspondent for normblog—final comment included—is a good read for all those wishing to learn more about it.

Categorie:somewhere in italy

Italy's post-election challenge

7 maggio, 2006 2 commenti

Should you read about Italy in the financial press, you might be excused for thinking that the days of la dolce vita are over: “zero growth, record deficits and staggering unemployment,” writes Newsweek International in its May 1, 2006 issue. This woeful record, after all, was the main issue raised by Romano Prodi in his campaign. Nevertheless, Berlusconi fell short of controlling the Camera dei Deputati (the lower house of Parliament) by getting only 25,000 votes out of 38 million less than his competitor. Which suggests that half of Italy concluded that life in Italy is still sweet.
 
How could it be possible? “Are Italians drinking too limoncello?” asks Barbie Nadeau in her piece. Not really, she (kindly) writes. As a matter of fact there is an important factor to be considered:
 
Italy’s long postwar history of doomsday predictions that didn’t come true. In 2001, when Berlusconi last came to power, the main fear was that he’d use his media holdings to boost his political advantage. As it turned out, the mogul’s TV and print publications mostly painted him as a scoundrel. In 1996, when Romano Prodi first beat Berlusconi, no outsiders thought the country could possibly manage the reforms required to join the euro zone. Before that, naysayers always found omens of apocalyptic proportions. In 1992, Italy recovered from its temporary suspension from the European monetary system when no one said it could. In the 1970s and ’80s, it was national terrorism and civil unrest that threatened disaster.
 
Well, if I can say it, this is exactly what I think with regard for the past. But what about the present and the future? What about “the long-awaited, much-needed (and painful) reforms?”
 
 
Italians sometimes surprise even themselves when new laws are imposed. Six years ago, who’d have thought they’d obey helmet regulations when riding their Vespas? Or stop smoking their MS cigarettes with their meals? But you won’t see a bare head on a moto in Milan these days, and the air in any Roman trattoria is as clean as it would be in San Francisco. If Italians can learn so quickly to do without those classic appurtenances of la bella figura, maybe they can be convinced of the need to impose some order on the country’s economic figures, too. But first they must believe such stiff medicine is indeed necessary.
 
That’s right. In fact, now the challenge will be how and when my fellow-countrymen will convince themselves that “such stiff medicine is indeed necessary.” But now we can count on the former communists of the Democrats of the Left party and, above all, on the Communist Refoundation party and the Party of the Italian Communists. Making no bones about it, doesn’t this essentially render the whole situation easy to manage? Are you skeptical by chance?  
Categorie:somewhere in italy

To be young in Italy

5 aprile, 2006 3 commenti

Excerpts from Time’s special report on Italy, focused on The Fading Future Of Italy’s Young:
 
 
Growing up, Italian teenagers learn the tale of Giotto and the fly. As a young apprentice in 13th century Florence, the aspiring painter sketched a fly on the nose of a portrait his master-teacher Cimabue was finishing. So lifelike was the insect that when the elder painter returned to the studio, he repeatedly tried to swat it off the canvas. Realizing he’d been fooled by the bravura talent of his pupil, Cimabue told him: "You have surpassed your teacher." Thus encouraged by his master, Giotto went on to revolutionize Western painting, and posterity regards him as the man who launched the Italian Renaissance.
Fast-forward to Italy 2006, and the image of the precocious apprentice has been replaced by a humbler figure: the underemployed 30-something despondent about the present, let alone the future.
[…]
Developing the potential of a Giotto requires masters with the wisdom and magnanimity of Cimabue. Even if Italy’s under-40s were to push harder for responsible roles, Italy’s old guard — in virtually every field, from academia to entertainment — shows few signs of ceding space to them.
[…]
Frida Giannini, 33, has taken over as creative chief [at Gucci, the luxury-goods maker]. The Rome native says Italy must find new ways to do what it has always done best: brilliant design allied to fine workmanship. "You grow up in a place like Rome, every other meter there is a work of art, some kind of treasure. It’s not the same to see it in a postcard," she says. "It’s in our dna." But that native aesthetic sense needs an extra dose of ingenuity to add value in today’s competitive environment. "Quality must be wedded to creativity," Giannini says. "If you want to give luster to whatever you produce, you must focus your resources on the young. You have to always be in search of what’s new, what’s next."
[…]
Italy is now on course to become quite literally the oldest of countries. Beset by economic and social stagnation that makes it among the most ossified slices of Old Europe, it is stuck with a stubbornly low birth-rate that means Italians are not even replacing themselves. In a more fundamental way, the nation has not figured out how to make use of the energy and ingenuity of its young. Faced with bleak job prospects and a lack of young leaders to look to, Italians in their 20s and 30s risk falling into a nationwide generational rut. Many are afflicted with a pervading sense of hopelessness and malaise that contrasts with the youth-driven vigor boosting states like Sweden or Slovenia.
[…]
Though absent from the candidates’ slogans, Italy’s need to rejuvenate itself ought to be the nation’s No. 1 priority. Better educated and more connected with the outside world, young Italians are ready to step into full-fledged adulthood and reshape their country’s future. But far too few have had the chance.