April 21, 2008

Law and order?

“If you look at the figures, Rome is one of the safest cities in Europe, ” said center-left candidate mayor of Rome Francesco Rutelli, at a campaign rally on Sunday. But soon after he felt the need to add that “unfortunately this is not enough and doesn't satisfy anyone. That's why we're here and we want more security.” Why?

First of all, personal security isn’t just a Rome issue, as shown by the two rape cases—both involving foreign victims—which happened over the weekend, namely that of an American student near a Milan nightclub and that of a student from Lesotho on the outskirts of Rome. In both cases foreigners—an Egyptian and a Romanian—are being held, and one of them was caught in the act.

In the second place, fears over crime and illegal immigration boosted the Northern League’s vote at last week's general election, doubling and tripling its haul, above all in front-line towns where local prosperity is undermined by thefts and burglaries. “We’re the only ones who talk unashamedly about law and order,” said Roberto Mura, the Northern League’s secretary for the province of Pavia, in Lombardy.

In the third place, center-right candidate for mayor of Rome Gianni Alemanno is campaigning that the weekend rape cases were evidence Italy has been too soft on immigrants. “For too long illegal immigrants and nomads have been considered untouchable in Rome,” he said.

So, crime and immigration have been pushed to the top Italy's political agenda. Which is perhaps the best way to escape from becoming victims of our own fears. Paraphrasing a well-known quote, the best way to try to escape from a problem is to face it.