August 20, 2006

Rome says NO to Mr Ahmadinejad

More than 10,000 Italians (may be 15,000) held a candle-lit vigil outside the Iranian embassy in Rome on Thursday night. It was a bipartisan demonstration, or “half-caste,” as Giuliano Ferrara put it. Mr Ferrara is the editor of Il Foglio—a conservative daily newspaper—and the promoter of the procession, organised in reaction to the threatening assertion of the President of Islamic Republic of Iran that “Israel should be wiped off the map.”

“All those who called me—said Ferrara—from abroad were amazed. French and American friends, such as Wiesel, Cohn-Bendit, and Podhoretz, told me they were astonished in front of a happening they consider unique in the world. For the first time in the Western World people don’t rally against an imperialist, zionist, “bad,” “right wing” country, but in defence of it. They don’t burn Star-of-David flags, they wave them. People don’t defend to the bitter end the rights of a Third World country, they challenge its President's threats—Iran can’t afford to cancel Israel, nor can it afford to threat it.”
[Corriere della Sera, in Italian]

Piero Fassino, the secretary of Democrats of the Left—Italy's largest opposition party—, was one of the politicians taking part in the demonstration.
“Like many other citizens—he said—, I’m here to reaffirm the absolute necessity of Israel’s existence. Peace in the Middle East will come with one state more, not one state fewer. “It's our duty—he added—to support all those fighting for democracy, freedom and reform in Middle Eastern countries”.

Walter Veltroni, the mayor of Rome and he himself a Democrat of the Left, participated in the rally. “Might this happen in London?”—asks Professor Norman Geras from his weblog. And “would [Veltroni’s Londoner equivalent] Ken Livingstone participate?”

Of course I don’t know. I can’t know. Yet, I hope what happened in Rome last Thursday will not remain the “unique” event which Giuliano Ferrara was talking about.

The most comprehensive report in English on the demonstration is here (Corriere della Sera, International Edition).

[This post was first published at on November 5, 2005]

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