Like almost everybody, I have been struggling to find the most appropriate response to terrorism and the understandable reactions to its attacks.
Not an easy thing to do, partly because this is such a big and complicated situation weaving in and out of politics, religion and huge economic interests; is there ANYTHING an individual can do?
Well, I am happy to report I have decided what Gianni can do.
I remember well the ’70s of last century: I was a teen ager then and Italy was going through what we used to call “Years of Lead”, because so much of this metal was dispensed: left-wing (mostly) and right-wing terrorists were killing and maiming politicians, industrialists, intellectuals, journalists and union reps. It was not uncommon at all for political manifestations to end with wreckage, beatings and gunfire both by police and protesters.
Bombs exploded in railway stations, on trains, in banks killing tens or hundreds of people. Police was everywhere, and it was very common for kids of my age to be stopped and questioned at roadblocks or police officers for no reason whatsoever.
The Italian situation then – not unlike today – offered plenty of reason for worry and preoccupation: rocketing oil prices, runaway inflation, the lira in a tailspin, corrupt politicians, inept managers and rapacious financiers all added their own particular poisons to the toxic mixture, culminating perhaps in the kidnapping and assassination of Christian Democrat politician Aldo Moro in 1978.
The situation started turning around when the then called Communist Party (the largest in Europe bar the Soviet Union) realized that left wing terrorists were NOT “comrades who went too far” but true criminals, and started cutting them off on the big factories shop floors and openly collaborating with the Police. They started denouncing them as enemies of the working class, expelling them from manifestations and throwing out party officers and members who connived with extremists.
Deprived of this support network, terrorism faltered, the heroic aura of revolutionaries dimmed, some of the less extreme started to dissociate and collaborate, until essentially all the hardliners were apprehended and are serving long terms in prison for their crimes.
That’s what needs to happen.
Moderate Islam must stop taking a back seat, must stop to consider terrorists “comrades who went too far” and start considering them for what they are, the worst enemies of their own people.
As the co-Chairman of the World Communication Forum, therefore, I am going to use every public platform I have available – and will actively seek those especially in the Arab world – to vigorously prompt moderate Islam to take action heeding the example of the Italian Communist Party in the ’70s.
That is what Gianni can and will do.