On 24th January, the Imam of Reggio Calabria Jilali Chanouane, the expert on Oriental art and culture Giovanna Dodaro, and the professors of the University for Foreigners “Dante Alighieri” Ezzat Hassan and Stefano Morabito held the conference “Dalle primavere arabe ai giorni nostri: quale futuro per il mondo arabo?” [English: “From the Arab Spring to the present day: what future for the Arab world?”] at the Dopolavoro Ferroviario in Reggio Calabria. The debate, organized by the associations ARCI and NEXT, was moderated by Ernesto Romeo (NEXT).

After the attack in Paris last January, there is a high risk that in Italy and in the rest of Europe the level of Islamophobia could ruinously increase. “Islam is not opposed to our culture, we are Mediterraneans”, said Giovanna Dodaro, stressing that “Islam is an ancient culture and, without its contribution, there would have not been our Renaissance”. According toDodaro, it is necessary to “bring our barycenter and the European one to the South”, sharing the Mediterranean cultural richness.

“We have waited a bit after the anguishing facts in Paris and the subsequent, at least partially, wave of rhetoric, demagogy and even racism. We waited to frame them in a broader context, because the West cannot observe the world from a single point of view and it has to listen to the voice of the Islamic world. There is no moderate Islam because it would require an extreme that does not exist”. This is the comment of Ernesto Romeo, who has denied any link between immigration and terrorism, instrumentally spread by some politician and media. The only relationship between immigration and terrorism is represented by the funds of the armed gangs that manage trafficking of human beings, often used to finance the terrorism itself.

According to Stefano Morabito, there is not in place “a clash of civilizations”. However, there is the need to identify the political and economic reasons. The scholar has admitted that “behind fanatical groups in the battle against the West, there are hidden issues such as the more or less direct and explicit support of Western actors. […] The clash was due to strong western interests that prevent a turnaround and the consequent underdevelopment that they create: to solve it, it is necessary to rebalanced inequalities by questioning the world order”.

Ezzat Hassan, a member of the Advisory Board of Mediterranean Affairs, stressed that “the crusades of the 10th century did not affect Spain and Sicily but only the Middle East, demonstrating how it was always a source of wealth and geopolitically important. […] In that area, as well as in Africa, there were interests of European colonizers, who have defended them even after their retirement”. According to Hassan, the Arab Springs said “no” to all this and added that “we are faced with phenomena such as the Islamic State, against which any Muslim is deployed because contrary to the Koran, which should be tackled through cooperation in a Mediterranean which should be nostrum”.

“Islam is peace, tolerance and freedom. Terrorism does not belong to the Islamic culture: it is a crime against our religion”, the Imam Jilali Chanouane has said, adding that “those who use Islam for their own purposes must be fought”.

Islamic extremism, in fact, jeopardizes Muslims’ position in the West with the spread of Islamophobia, which aggravates the contrast between civilizations and increases the disillusionment of Muslim communities in Europe.

Luca Assumma

Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Journalism (University of Messina)