A Sicilian-Pakistani sunstroke

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A Sicilian-Pakistani sunstroke

13 Luglio 2007

In his
speech at a conference on the integration of Muslim immigrant communities on
Wednesday, Interior Minister Giuliano Amato nonchalantly declared that beating
women is a “Sicilian-Pakistani tradition”. The former Socialist
premier, now serving in the centre-left government of Premier Romano Prodi,
went on to add that the “customs and traditions” popular in Sicily up
until the 1970s are not very far from “those imported by certain groups of
Muslim immigrants”.

Expectedly, Amato remarks immediately threw him
in a heap of trouble. Opposition MP and ex-minister Stefania Prestigiacomo,
from Sicily, responded: “Amato doesn’t know what he’s saying. Either
he  immediately apologises to Sicilians
or I’ll sue him for libel”. Another Sicilian MP, Giuseppe Marinello of
Forza Italia, also demanded an apology, pointing out that “no one has the
right to define a lack of  respect
towards women a Sicilian characteristic” and that “no such
Sicilian-Pakistani tradition exists.
The real news, however, is that, this time, Amato’s “slip of tongue”
got noticed even by some members of his own coalition: “Amato treated the
issue of violence on women with surprising lightness” said MP Riccardo
Villari of La Margherita who nonetheless added, in a justificatory tone, that
“someone like him  should know that
complicated concepts can sound rough, approximate and even offensive when
summed up and quoted”.  

He’s right. In fact, one cannot help but wonder
what happened to Dr. Subtle, the guy who always thought twice before opening his
mouth. Where did the Professor go, the only one, among Prodi’s ministers who seemed
the right guy in the right  place, a
guarantee for the country’s security?

Perhaps Forza Italia National Coordinator Sandro Bondi
was right when he pointed out that “Amato, who prophetized that this
country would go crazy, is not immune from the process himself”. Or maybe
the Interior Minister was simply infected by the superficial attitude that has
become a feature of most of the majority’s representatives.