HRS International

Debate in Italy? Not yet.

Italy is the country where the late Oriana Fallaci was indicted for speaking her mind about Islam; within its borders is the Vatican, whose head of state became a target of Muslim wrath when he quoted in a speech an obscure Byzantine emperor’s remarks about the religion of Muhammed. Yet as Angelo Pezzana observes in this piece for, the issue of Islamization has occasioned nary a parliamentary debate, TV opinion poll, or editorial commentary in his country – not, that is, until the other day, when Italy’s leading newspaper prominently featured an extraordinarily provocative editorial on the subject. Yet even that, he discovered, wasn’t enough to kick off the debate that the land of Garibaldi so desperately needs.

By Angelo Pezzana for HRS

Italy is gradually becoming part of Eurabia, but don’t bother searching for statistics indicating what Italians think about their future. Such surveys don’t exist. And if they did, the majority of the responses would be “don’t know.” Not because Italians don’t know how they feel about the situation, but because they honestly don’t know anything about the situation.

”Future?” they would say. ”What future? Are you talking about pulling ourselves up out of the economic crisis? No? In that case we don’t understand the question.”

If we were, then, to try to make it clear that the future we are speaking of is that of the country itself – namely, the question of whether it will continue to be characterized by a liberal, democratic Western civilization – they would be clueless. They know about the issue of immigration, especially illegal immigration, since they can regularly see images on their television sets of boats from Libya landing on the coast of Sicily. But those are the only immigrants that Italians know about. In their minds, the increase in the Muslim population – which is ballooning so fast that by mid-century the country will probably have an Islamic majority – belongs to the realm of science fiction, along with debates about whether UFOs exist or not.

Proof? Well, consider this: on December 20, the editors of Corriere della Sera, which is Italy’s largest newspaper as well as its most prestigious, published an editorial. At this point I should emphasize that editorials in Corriere della Sera, as a rule, represent the opinion of the newspaper as a whole. This one’s title seemed quite level-headed and, indeed, almost antiseptic: «The Integration of Muslims.” It was written by Giovanni Sartori, one of the most eminent names in the world of Italian political commentary and an individual for whom that all-important space on the front page – the space devoted to pieces which articulate the newspaper’s editorial line – is invariably reserved. Sartori has been a professor not only at the University of Florence but also at Yale, Stanford, and Harvard; but to any readers who might have assumed from the title of the editorial that they were in for an academic analysis, the piece must have come as something of a shock.

For never before had an Italian analyst of the left – which is what Sartori is – produced so extreme an appraisal of Islam, an appraisal which could fairly be described as even more hostile to the religion tout court than are the works of Oriana Fallaci. On the question of immigration, Sartori offered an unequivocal and thoroughgoing thumbs-down. His article ended with the words: «To delude oneself about integration, about Italianization, is to take an immense and uninformed risk, a risk that should not be taken.»

Let’s look at some of his assertions. He maintains that being a «xenophobe» is no worse than being a «xenophile” – indeed, that there is no real difference between the two positions, so that there is nothing wrong with being a “xenophobe.” He also believes that those who are leading the way in putting out the welcome mat for Muslim immigrants are the Church and the political left. With more than a touch of irony, he defines the Church’s position as «merciful» (misericordiosa); meanwhile he accuses the left of choosing to follow a «political correct» line – even though it is incapable of explaining why it has taken this route.

Sartori clarifies his position by noting that «the issue is not a matter of white, black, and yellow, not a matter of skin color, but rather of the ability of Islam to integrate itself.” He defends his dubiety on this score by adducing an important historical fact – that at no time since A.D. 630 has there been a successful integration of Islam into non-Muslim societies. The prime example, Sartori writes, is India, «where the armies of Allah came in the early 1500s and established the Mughal Empire, which for two centuries dominated that entire country.»

He then turns his attention to the state of affairs in contemporary Europe. «England and France,” he writes, “have committed themselves to this issue heart and soul, and yet find themselves with a third generation of young Muslims more overheated and more depraved than ever.» Here’s an interesting comparison: «This has been surprising, because the Chinese, Japanese, and Indians are married off in the West without any problems, even as they manage to maintain their respective cultural and religious identities. But – and here’s the difference – Islam is not a domesticated religion; it is, rather, an invasive theocratic monotheism that has awakened after a long period of stagnation and that is increasingly inflamed.”

This article, I thought at once, will hit Italy like an earthquake, a massive explosion. Never had anyone on the left mounted such a strong criticism of the do-gooder mentality that has characterized every aspect of official policy relating to Islam’s silent invasion of Italy. Under the benevolent, and essentially favorable, gaze of the Vatican – which still sees Islam as an ally against its greatest enemy, modernity – all Italian governments have been marked by a genuine, shared blindness, a failure to grapple openly with the “Eurabia” argument. Never a parliamentary debate, never a survey on television, never an analysis in the newspapers. But now, I told myself, Sartori’s torpedo would finally – finally! – ignite the Eurabia question.

But no. Not only did the explosion I expected never materialize; the Sartori editorial was thoroughly ignored by all of the nation’s news media. Yes, every last one of them – even though it had appeared in the most important daily in the entire country. In short, Italy, to borrow a metaphor from Bruce Bawer’s prophetic While Europe Slept, continues to sleep. The people of Italy are unaware of the fate that is about to overtake them, and even when the alarm sounds from the left, the result is the same – nothing.

It is as if the abyss that lies before us did not exist at all.

Translated from the Italian by Bruce Bawer