Photo (click for large) by Francesca Ottobelli: anti-Berlusconi protesters in Italy today.
"If Not Now, When?" was a national demonstration of Italian women, against Berlusconi and, to put it bluntly, his porno-democracy. The demo had other slogans as well: Resign! Basta! I don't give up! ADESSO, NOW!
A flash mob in 280 cities of Italy and 50 cities abroad, millions of people, mostly women, but also men and children. The demonstrations have been growing in the months since Berlusconi got caught up in the sex scandal vertigo with minors, prostitutes, pimps and orgies.
A week ago in Milan, in a big rally, the prominent intellectuals in Italian public life threw themselves into the campaign: the distinguished professor and writer Umberto Eco, Roberto Saviano the star of the antimafia campaign, the judges of of the constitutional court, trade union leaders and many others. But as one of the speakers, the orchestra director Pollini remarked : Berlusconi will never step down.
Berlusconi did not leave public life. On the contrary, he sped up his counter-campaign, attacking the judges in Milan who brought the latest of many legal cases against him. He even threatened to take his case to the European Parliament and sue the nation of Italy. He organized rallies in his support , claiming that his innocent altruistic interest in young girls had been cruelly misunderstood. He also accused the investigators of orchestrating a communist-biased coup against himself as head of government.
But his luck may be turning these days, after sixteen long years of media monopoly and political domination. Even the Catholic daily, Avvenire, came out with a big editorial claiming that decent Catholic women should be in the public squares on the 13th of February. It's rare of the Church to urge women to take to the streets to defend their dignity. Then there is the dignity of the state to consider, for the ludicrous shambles of Italian public life has become a matter of international concern.
(photo: Sara Zampieron, Click for large)
A British comment in the Guardian justly noted that European Union as the monitor of high democratic standards within the community of states. Yet while they preach good governance to applicant countries like Turkey and Serbia, they ignore the calamitous decline of democracy in Italy, an EU founding state. Italy has become a European laughingstock, all harems, dictators, old men and underage girls.
An irate 18 year old guy in Italy demanded publicly: how am I supposed to get a girlfriend of my own age, since Berlusconi, the grandad of the nation, is buying them all? I don't have his years, his money and power, I don't even have a job or a decent education. University and hospital funds are cut, jobs are in recession and Berlusconi's parliamentary allies are cutting the country apart with regionalist laws. Berlusconi' s government still holds the majority in the parliament. The president of Italy had to admonish him that the country is not his private property.
The president also alleged that Italian democratic institutions are sound, but clearly Berlusconi doubts that and so do the millions of Italians today in the squares all over Italy. In Torino, the capital of Italy in its unification years ago, a protester said: we are the head of the boot extending toward Africa.
The demo today lacked party or ideological symbols: it was a flash mob with umbrellas and screams; RESIGN. It was extremely successful, unitary and grand. It brought out of the closet what is left of Italian decency after long reign of a small macho dictator, who has publicly realized the worst dreams of Italian macho culture. As a woman demonstrator put it: some men after all do prefer a partner to a harem.
Today women of all ages and political opinions were in the squares and streets; I saw Italian women, foreign women, clandestine women, special needs women, female beggars and hobos, girls, babies, even nuns!...and I saw men, boys, old men... The performance was to open the umbrellas, scream RESIGN and spread colorful woolen threads among the crowd to bind those different people. Music played: Patti Smith, Fabrizio de Andre. Girl bloggers asked for a ban of internet use of nude bodies. Women have a value, not a price! Men made fun of their macho patriarchal language with banners and in drag clothes. Pornocrazia!
Today 13th February is the "international day of mistresses." Tomorrow it's Valentine's day, the day of love. Whatever this meeting will bring to future of Italy and the reign of Berlusconi, it's clear beyond doubt that nobody doubts Berlusconi's guilt. They despise his use and abuse of girls and money. Now the big question is -- does public indignation matter? The old Sultan will leave his thone someday, and if not now, when?
Women toppled their rich, remote, corrupted regimes in Tunisia and Egypt. If not here, where? So why not in Italy too?
Jasmina's blog: jasminatesanovic.wordpress.com
Jasmina Tesanovic is an author, filmmaker, and wandering thinker who shares her thoughts with BoingBoing from time to time. Email: politicalidiot at yahoo dot com. Blog: jasminatesanovic.wordpress.com.