ROME, October 23, 2016 — Rome is living on borrowed time. The number and intensity of terrorist events has mounted throughout Europe. The Vatican, hub of the Roman Catholic church and spiritual center for most of the world’s Christians, has been a desirable target of Islamic jihad for centuries.
Pope Francis’ progressive efforts to make nice with Islamists rests on the misguided belief that it is possible to negotiate with them. But just two months ago, ISIS released a video which included a threat to conquer Rome.
Until Friday, Italy had received high praise as a model for preventing Islamic terror, although this was probably a false image. Among the reasons given for Italy’s success has been its ability to take swift and decisive action when threatened. More likely, the time just has not been right for a Islamist attack.
That may be coming to an end following a massive protest by thousands of Muslims outside the Colosseum on Friday.
The proximate reason for the protests was that Roman authorities closed down three makeshift mosques in the city. The “garage mosques”, as they have been nicknamed, were said be recruiting centers for young jihadis.
Police shut them down because they were difficult to monitor. This elevated fears that they would serve as radicalization centers.
The result was Friday’s protest, which a Bangladeshi Islamic group called Dhuumcatu is said to have organized in response to the closings.
France and Belgium have both suffered deadly, Islamist, terrorist attacks over the past year, but Italy has been so far immune to the violence.
The choice of the Colosseum as the protest site was obvious; the Colosseum has enormous cultural and historical significance, as well as ties to Christianity in ancient Rome. According to reports, many Romans were “visibly disturbed” and pointed out that ISIS frequently used the Colosseum as a backdrop in its threats to conquer Rome and the “Crusaders.”
Among the measures Italy has used to resist attacks has been its no-nonsense moves to quickly deport radicalized Muslims as a threat to the country. Italy employs profiling in its efforts to protect national security, and as part of that system, numerous radical imams have been deported along with potential jihadists.
Breitbart News notes that a leading military analyst, Edward N. Luttwak, believes that Italy is more vulnerable to terrorist attack than either France or Belgium. At the same time it has been far more efficient at stopping would-be terrorists in advance.
Luttwak adds that Islamists have failed to kill a single person on Italian soil.
On the other hand, pointing that out to an organization like ISIS, which has no qualms about using barbaric methods to destroy civilian lives, is little more than an invitation to strike.
A further incentive for terrorist action can be found in a cross which stands outside the Colosseum that features a plaque which reads, “The amphitheater, once consecrated to triumphs, entertainments, and the impious worship of pagan gods, is now dedicated to the sufferings of the martyrs purified from impious superstitions.”
To a religion that rejects all gods other than Allah, and which cannot come to grips with the concept of a holy trinity, the impious beliefs of non-Muslims are all that is required to justify an attack.
Rome and the Vatican are vulnerable. They may be even more susceptible now.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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