The other side of Italy: Where the kebab frightens more than a sawan-off shotgun

A plethora of Mafia organizations are well rooted in the North of Italy, where they aim not only at laundering but also at controlling the territory, local institutions and tenders. When questioned about this Mafia “emergency,” all Northern League politician’s continuously circumvent the issue at hand and continue to focus on security ordinances against sellers of ethnic food.

Letizia Moratti, mayor of Milan, asked Roberto Maroni, the Italian interior minister, to issue a decree law to allow frisking migrants’ houses in order to find illegal immigrants. The decree against urban blight in action in Via Padova (the street in Milan where clashes between immigrants took place few weeks ago) mandates: kebab shops to close at 10 pm, massage centers to close at 8 pm, discos to close at 2 am, and for restaurants to close by midnight. Many view such a decree to reflect a curfew like environment that one would have experienced during periods of war.

These right wing politicians refuse to even acknowledge the presence of the Mafia in Northern Italy-as evidenced by the lack of mention on the topic in recent electoral campaigns. It has been proven that the murder rate increase, in the last 10 to 25 years, has been perpetuated by the mafia. Despite this, it would seem that the Mafia presence in North Italy is escaping the concerns of it politicians. Instead, “Padania,” the land of the Northern League, has unleashed an ideological war against a presumed “Islamic danger” while ignoring the role of the extremely powerful and dangerous Mafia clans, whose reach encroaches into public works and all big state projects.

The stereotypes surrounding Via Padova: There are problems but it isn’t a Bronx.

A murder (of a young Egyptian man by a group of south-Americans on the 13th of February) that could have happened in any part of Milan, has triggered a press campaign that described Via Padova as a mass of ugly things, a promiscuity of people coming from everywhere, of crumbling buildings, an insecure and unlivable casaba. The journalist, who is also an inhabitant of Via Padova, suggests that the campaign has had the effect to instill in people living in that area with the idea of not being on par with such a civil city as Milan. She tries to counter the stereotype by highlighting the fact that Via Padova is a more than just a four kilometer road and is much diversified. Just as any other areas of the city, Via Padova has its good and bad areas. There are specific and clear responsibilities for the public and local authorities who have yet to take any action towards preventing the recent tension. The streets appear to be under siege due to the strong presence of the police and the army. The journalist rightly claims that the only sustainable way out of the current predicament would require farsighted re qualification policies. Such actions are needed to convince the Italian inhabitants and shopkeepers to remain, contrasting the foreigners’ invasion. In fact, a too large number of immigrants located in the same place make integration difficult. Concluding, she condemns all of the stereotypes that fix reality in an unchangeable status quo. On the contrary, each and every place is unique, neither common nor predictable.

Ambrogini Prize to the Imam of the Islamic Centre of Via Padova in Milan, Italy

The mayor of Milan, Letizia Moratti, has awarded a prize (Ambrogino d’oro) to the most deserving citizens of the city of Milan. Among the awarded, the president of the House of Islamic Culture in Milan, Mahmoud Asfa.

He pointed out the need, for Muslims, to have small places for worship. At the same time, he stressed his opposition to the creation of Islamic parties in Italy, preferring the integration of Muslims in the Italian political system. He also appreciated the openness demonstrated by the city council of Milan regarding the creation of small worship places for Muslim citizens.