Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Italy, please don't blink

So the militant Islamic group Green Brigade has 3 Italian hostages and are threatening to execute them unless Italians take to the street to protest their government's involvement in the coalition. The death of another hostage, Fabrizio Quattrocchi, galvanized the Italian people behind their President (albeit for a short time).

I am curious to know whether the far left activist groups will try and have a rally this weekend in Milan or Rome. What would Berlusconi do? Refuse to let them protest? His own political support isn't all that strong as it is. But I think in the end, the people of Italy would react very negatively to a large and organized protest. They would view it as a capitulation to the terrorist's demands. And if any significant number of people in the protest we foreign nationals, I think that many in Italy would believe that these activists are just using this incident to push their own agendas instead of doing it for the presumed safety of the hostages.

I doubt that Berlusconi will blink on this one. If the 3 hostages are killed, there will be a temporary show of support for the government, and then anger that Italy is in Iraq at all. But the demand of the Green Brigade shows that these people are becoming more and more politically savvy as time goes on.

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