Monday, July 7, 2008

[clandestini] something here for all of us

Yet another tragedy was splashed across the local paper casually dropped on the glass tabletop with the inlaid design, in the cafe I strolled down to on Sunday morning.
Here was I, white, clean shaven, dressed as smartly as any local, sipping on my coffee, just as the scattering of others also were who’d stayed in the city rather than go to the beach or to their country houses. Did I care?
Well yes.
The people in the news are the clandestini, the boat people who, desperate to escape the senseless poverty and violence of the North African Muslim regimes, prefer to chant “Sicilia or Paradise”, the latter their watery destination should they fail, which they generally do. And yet this does not dissuade them from trying.
The Italian, the Sicilian attitude, is a tad kindlier than, say, in Germany or France. There is a grudging recognition down this way that we are all struggling to make ends meet and to find some sort of life in the process.
And what of me, silently finishing the first cappuccino? I’m also by no means out of the woods, off the boat to mix metaphors. It is quite possibile that a stroke of the pen will end my stay once again. So you’ll perhaps forgive a slight edge to my interest in the boat people.
The other day for the first time, I saw one of the survivors emerge from the kitchen of a cafe and pick some leaves from a tree, then merge back into her sanctuary. She was working, possibly long hours. She had every intention of integrating and trying to find acceptance in a very closed community.
Contrast this with the aliens allowed in on study visas in Britain who then kick up merry hell at the end of their time. Contrast it with the proliferation of Mosques and the like, led by people who then have the temerity to demand their own system of justice, Sharia Law.
Oh yes?
And what does the head of the UK police say? Get knotted? You will conform to British law whilst in this country? Not a bit of it. He says there is a place for Sharia Law in Britain’s legal system. Was there a place for Jewish Law in previous years? Bahai Law? Was there a Buddhist system of justice recognized by the Crown?
Sorry to be so grumpy but why the hell should Sharia Law be picked out of the air and favoured by the British police and justice system?
Every one of you knows the answer to that. Because these leaders are not socially agreeable, hard-working immigrants, trying to integrate with British society. They are trouble makers trying to impose an alien system on someone else’s country.
Now if I’d written that about the Bahai, about the Buddhists, there’d have barely been more than a murmur. So why the howls of rage from this community, insistent on no offence being given them?
Any person of any race, religion or color is generally welcome to another land, as long as the clear intention is to integrate and conform to the law and social mores of that country.
Here in Italy, it is quite clear – to have any intention of remaining, one learns the language, the customs, the traditions of the place, mixes with the local people, rather than hiding away in a ghetto, contributing to the local economy and needing to be seen to be doing this.
One keeps one’s protestantism low key and visit the Catholic church, eating the local cuisine – not all the time but much of the time, transmitting one’s own culture to the locals as and when they wish to know of it.
Having now travelled from land to land, this appears fundamental, something that should simply be taken as read.
Not in my homeland, it seems.

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