The P-Word

Daniela Santanchè is a feminist and a “far-right” politician in Italy. In most countries those characteristics would be considered mutually contradictory, but not in Italy — Italian feminists are different.

Ms. Santanchè, the leader of Movement for Italy, caused a big brouhaha on Italian TV this past Sunday when she referred to Mohammed as a polygamist and a pedophile. Muslims on the podium and in the audience became very upset with her — such disrespect for Islam!

OK, OK, so ol’ Mo married a six-year-old and deflowered her when she was nine. But that doesn’t make him a pedophile! You have to remember: those were different times, and a man needed nine wives and a child bride just to cope with that hot, hot desert sun.

Furthermore, an important prerequisite for living in a vibrant multicultural society is to respect a diversity of cultural practices. The French eat gruyere. Eskimos eat seal blubber. And Muslims marry little girls.

What’s the big deal?

Here’s the video of all the uproar. Many thanks to Jdamn for the translation and Kitman for the subtitling:

Below the jump is a news report about the incident from AKI:
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Italy: Mohammed called a ‘paedophile’ in TV spat

Milan, 9 Nov. (AKI) — Italian feminist and former far right-wing MP Daniela Santanche has sparked a controversy after calling the Prophet Mohammed a “a polygamist and paedophile” during a TV debate. Santanche appeared on a television programme aired on the commercial channel, Canale 5 with the president of Milan’s Islamic centre, Ali Abu Schwaima, on Sunday.

“Mohammed was a polygamist and a paedophile because he had nine wives, one of whom was only nine years old, that is a historical fact,” said Santanche.

A former MP for the post-fascist National Alliance party, Santanche now leads the far-right La Destra party.

Her remark incensed Schwaima and Muslims in the audience, who had been invited to take part in a debate on the contentious issue of placing crucifixes in Italian classrooms after last week’s ban by the European Court of Human Rights.

“Why don’t we talk about serious things, not about your disgusting comments,” he shouted at Santanche.

Santanche continued to shout back: “For us, Mohammed was a paedophile.”

“You’re just showing the ignorance of people like you who have no other arguments to use,” bellowed Schwaima, jabbing his finger at her.

He claimed the crucifix should not be removed from classrooms in Italy.

“For us, Christ was one of the five main prophets and we respect him, like the crucifix.”

But Santanche was not appeased by Schwaima’s remark.

“We will never listen to Mohammed, who was a polygamist and a paedophile,” screeched Santanche.

Studio ushers were seen physically restraining an irate, bearded member of the audience from lunging at her.

“I and my staff dissociate ourselves from these comments, which are offensive to Islam,” Domenica Cinque’s presenter, Barbara D’Urso, said in a statement issued after the programme.

A former MP for the post-fascist National Alliance party, Santanche ran for the lower house of parliament on the far-right La Destra list in last year’s general election.

But the party failed to reach the 4 percent threshold required for election to the parliament.

Santanche was last year among rightwing protesters who opposed the conversion of a former velodrome into a mosque in Milan.

She opposes Muslim women wearing the veil in Italy and has called for a referendum to reopen the country’s brothels.

Aisha was believed to be nine-years-old at the time of her marriage to Mohammed.

Child marriages such as Aisha’s were relatively common in Bedouin societies at the time of the prophet and remain so in countries such as Yemen and Saudi Arabia among others.

16 thoughts on “The P-Word

  1. I like the diskreet use of ‘P-word’, indicating that this is one of the words that may be illegal to utter under the EU anti-discrimination regime. Latest is that discrimination against paedophiles will be outlawed, when Lisbon comes into force on Dec. 1st.

    I really do want to discriminate against paedophiles, as well against other people whose behaviour is destructive to society and civilization. If anyone comes to think of the ‘I-word’ here, that’s appropriate.

  2. I think the Italian language has to be the best sounding in the world when it comes to a good argument. The lower east side must have been a virtual symphony back in the day. Compare it with Arabic which sounds like two guys with a lung infection.

  3. Orange vest woman, muslima or clueless nun? She was on the side of the guy speaker.

    And why deny the historical fact and say it is wrong? Was bearded guy saying that Mo didn’t marry a nine year old? How can they keep denying it?

  4. Spackle, that’s because Italian evolved by being spoken by people who are constantly arguing and yelling, so it’s understandably well-suited to that. That’s how they talk around the dinner table. I worked for a fresh-off-the-boat Italian family when I was in high school and it took me three weeks to realize that my boss wasn’t yelling at me and that that was just how she talked. And half of my family is Italian.

  5. jdamn

    Very funny. I know what you mean. I grew up in a working class neighborhood in NYC. And virtually all of my friends names ended in vowels. Eating at their families homes was very entertaining and delicious to boot. Something I would take advantage of as often as possible. God love my dear old mother, but besides Corned beef and cabbage she was a lousy cook. : )

  6. Kitman —

    Yes, I know gruyere is Swiss, but it’s French Swiss, and that’s what counts.

    One branch of my family consisted of Virginia Huguenots, which means they were closely affiliated with the Calvinists of Geneva. To us, the distinction between France and French Switzerland is relatively unimportant.

  7. jdamn & spackle–

    MMMM…Italian anything is special.

    I lived for some years in the Italian section of Wellesley Mass, outside Boston. My neighbors were Italian immigrants, not the hyphenated kind. In fact, the people we bought our house from were moving back to Italy to start a restaurant. I loved that house; it never lost the fragrance of fennel, which must have been ground into the floorboards over the years.

    Our neighbors were wonderful. I got gifts of wine (in return for the grapes from our arbor), cooking lessons,recipes, and the overflow from their gardens. It was a good place to live, even though I could tell they thought we Americans were a bit umm…slow.

    One of the best psrts of the Italian language is how they use their hands for emphasis and meaning. I wonder if any linguist has done slow motion studies of this feature of Italian?

    There is so much to admire in that culture. They bring such vibrancy to life.

    My two favorite candies happen to be Italian: torrone and penuche. I discovered torrone when my aunt, a Franciscan nun, lived in an Italian section in Brooklyn. She was the principal of a school on Powell St and the kids gave her so many boxes of torrone at Christmas and Easter that she sent some on to us. Heaven!

    The discovery of penuche had to wait until I lived among Italians. I’ve made it on occasion, but not often. The B is a chocolate fiend so it would fall to me to consume all that I made. Unfortunately, sugar is *not* my friend, much as I like it.

  8. I wrote an article in which I called the good ol’ prophet of Islam a pedophile and the student newspaper at my university refused to publish it.

  9. Dymphna,

    I don’t have a sweet tooth, but there are some desserts I love. One of my all-favorite confection is Africani – an Italian egg yolk merengue pastry from Siena. It’s absolutely delicious and ingenious in its simplicity.

    The ingredients are 6 egg yolks and 2 deciliters (less than a cup) sugar. That’s all! You whisk them together for a long time until all sugar is dissolved. The egg yolks should be almost white and frothy – almost as stiff as egg whites (but, of course, they won’t stay on the beaters). Then you divide them between paper cups for small cupcakes and put them in the over that has been preheated to 120 Centigrade. After they are in the over, turn off the heat. If your oven is of the kind that loses heat too quickly, you can later turn on the heat to 80-90 C for a while. Otherwise leave it as it is. Leave the merengues for 1 hour. When you take them out, they will be merengue-like on the outside and soft and meltingly-gooey on the inside. Out of this world. This is for people who love eggs, such as myself. The better the eggs that you use, they tastier they are.

  10. Natalie, a favorite approach of mine in a situation like that is not to pass the judgement myself, but leave it up to the reader. The documentation is there, one needs only to connect the dots, and then ask a question like:

    “What would it take to prove Mo not a paedophile?”

    Having the obvious conclusion form in the brain of the reader can be more powerful than presenting it on a silver platter to him.

  11. Even the host of the programme sided against the European Court. Can you imagine the host of a debate on American or British TV in which the host sided with someone defending Christian symbols and allowed a panelist to attack Islam? Me neither.

    Baron: One branch of my family consisted of Virginia Huguenots, which means they were closely affiliated with the Calvinists of Geneva. To us, the distinction between France and French Switzerland is relatively unimportant.

    It seems to be unimportant to the French and French-Swiss as well. There is a Formula 1 driver from Geneva who drives under the French tricolor for French team Renault. The English F1 commentator on the BBC said recently that being French-Swiss was deemed close enough for Renault to give him the position on the French team. Jean-Luc Godard who is of French-Swiss background and lives there but holds French citizenship has said the French part of Switzerland is more like a province of France than part of a separate nation.

    What matters is they are genetically the same as those ‘real French’ across the border and have absorbed France’s culture.

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