Italy: the strange Islamist/Communist alliance
by Lorenzo Vidino
March 28, 2007
In June 2005 David Kaplan reported on US News about Ten Euros for the Resistance/Iraq Libero, a campaign led by an odd collection of European (mostly Italian, German and Austrian) "Marxists and Maoists, sprinkled with an array of Arab emigres and aging, old-school fascists," to raise money for the "Iraqi resistance." While never raising big sums, the informal network was active in organizing meetings and setting up stands in various European cities. The story generated quite a bit of attention and in the following weeks 44 members of Congress sent a letter to Italy's ambassador to the United States, expressing "concern" about the Ten Euros campaign. Moreover the network's main website was shut down and a few addresses in Italy were raided.
Almost two years later, the Iraq Libero network is more than active and last weekend it organized a conference in Chianciano, a charming Tuscan town. The main organizers are the Committees for the Support of the Resistance for Communism (CARC), whose website shows various anti-American initiatives. In the communiqué announcing the Chianciano conference, the CARC express "our determination to support, with the resources at our disposal, the resistance of the popular masses in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and Lebanon against the aggressions of the imperialists of the USA and of any other country."
Among the speakers in Chianciano, beside self-proclaimed leaders of the Iraqi resistance, we find Hamza Piccardo, the Secretary General of the UCOII (Unione delle Comunità e Organizzazioni Islamiche in Italia), the Italian branch of the international Muslim Brotherhood network. Addressing an audience filled with Communist militants, Piccardo gave a powerful and telling speech. "The young Muslims of Europe," said the 55-year-old UCOII leader in a speech broadcasted by Italian TV, "can be companions of street and of struggle and we saw it in a remarkable way in France, two years ago. Those that set on fire 36.000 cars in a few days. This is a strength that immigrant communities have in them, their demographic strength, their courage. With this strength, with these youths, we must interact. Anti-Imperialism is in them."
Piccardo's speech seems that of a Communist leader, rather than that of the leader of one of Italy's most important Muslim organization. An explanation can be found in Piccardo's past involvement in the militant Communist underworld. Before his conversion to Islam in 1975, Piccardo had been a member of Autonomia Operaia, one of Italy's most radical leftist formations during the 1970s. Piccardo, like other UCOII members that come from the radical left, dreams of a fusion of Communist and Islamist ideologies, with anti-capitalism, anti-Americanism and anti-Semitism as the glues for this odd marriage. The UCOII case is not an isolated example of the alliance between far left and radical Islam in Europe. Another notorious example is Respect, the unlikely political formation borne out of the alliance between the Brotherhood-linked Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) and fringe leftist groups headed by George Galloway. The phenomenon needs to be monitored, as the repercussions for both the security and the social cohesion of Europe can be serious.