Milan. Squares to be occupied, pieces of the city to be torn up and submitted to their own authority. Behind the horrible night of collective sexual harassment in Piazza Duomo there is also an idea of conquering the territory and Milan – a European city – is the privileged terrain of this action, in which illegal or criminal acts are not carried out in secret but exalt yourself in the public space with this crazy symbolic ambition.
The conquest of Milan is underway. Souad Sbai, founder of the Moroccan Women in Italy association, speaks of an action to “occupy the territory”, and suggests a reading of New Year’s abuses and European precedents (see Cologne): it is necessary to see them – he warns – as a movement, ” something that has to do with a thought that is being created in the second generations “and has to do with a” perverse version of religion “. In short, an ideological fact. “The message they send us is this: we are masters of the territory and we consider you something foreign – so Maryan Ismail, first woman imam in our country – It seems to me that they behave as if with the body of an infidel, not dressed according to the canons, could amuse themselves at will: Your bodies of infidels, kafir, mean nothing to us ».
Lorenzo Vidino, a Milanese and leading expert in Islamic radicalism, sees traces of “a subculture that marries, often in a confused way, Arab-Islamic identity, mythicization of crime and machismo”. Last year in Piazza Selinunte in San Siro, a candidate to become the first Italian banlieu, challenging the anti-Covid bans about 300 young people gathered to shoot the video of a very young Maghrebi rapper, and a guerrilla war against the police started, with launches of bottles and stones, shouting “Get out of here!”. Vidino noted this, in «Repubblica», citing it as an example of this identity mixture that leads to the rejection of the host country even by the second generations.
South American gangs are also rampant, but they don’t have the same fanatical references. Religious “separatism” is President Emmanuel Macron’s declared enemy in France. In Europe, enclaves are tolerated, with their own legal and welfare bodies, in which the state and its legitimate use of force on the territory are not recognized. The challenge to institutions proliferates in poor and disadvantaged neighborhoods, but on special occasions leads to forays into symbolic spaces.
It is inevitable to note how, 13 years ago, Piazza Duomo itself, like San Petronio in Bologna, was the scene of a sort of provocation, or “profanation”, sought or not avoided: the famous “prayer” in the churchyard which – after a fire of American and Israeli flags – was conducted at dusk by an imam already convicted of terrorism. “There is concern about this violent use of religion – the director of the Osservatore Romano Gian Maria Vian told the newspaper – I was impressed”. That imam led the mosque in Viale Jenner, which in previous years was considered a sort of jihadist base, at least by the Americans, and poured out the faithful on the street, in “prayers” that were intended to create, or raise politically, the theme -mosques.
Since then, religious centers have lost their centrality, supplanted by the web. But in December 2017, it was Piazza Cavour that was occupied by another confused political-religious demonstration, against Trump and against Israel, in which anti-Semitic and jihadist slogans were chanted. The episode prompted the Prosecutor’s Office to open a file in which the accusation of incitement to racial hatred was hypothesized.
All made different from each other. But between the political-“religious” events of that time and the political-criminal misdeeds of today we can see a thread that holds everything.