In case one day you happen to take a bus in Kabul, which is not recommended since one blows up a year, on the sign of each stop you will find a Japanese flag. It is a sign of gratitude for the donations made to urban transport by the Tokyo government, but many Afghans do not know it: for them, that red circle on a white field is simply the symbol of the buses. And in so many years, among a thousand chatter about cultural colonialism, it has never been thought of changing it. Also in Belgrade there are old yellow buses sent from Japan after the bombs of ’99, and they all have flags identical to those of Kabul. But in the Paris of the Balkans no one would ever exchange a gift for a logo: public transport is proudly provided by a very long-standing company with Cyrillic characters, and woe to give them up. Because the identity of a people is obliterated even on buses and the difference is all here: the Others are not always the same. There are old enemies (the Serbs) similar to us whites, Christians and Europeans, and after the war it is easy to drive them to reserved seats; there are others (Islam) different from us, dark and exotic, and it is better to keep them at a distance, on the back places, ghosts that follow us but do not accompany us.
These ghosts. «Dogs – said a psychoanalyst one day – see a shadow, they get scared and bark before they understand ». And they pack. And they make war. And they make instinct prevail over reason, biting their ghosts. Men are no different. They dig boundaries, set up fences, divide passengers. And what is this barking at the Others, seen only as a threat, if not the prejudice instilled by some Gulf TV preacher in Arab misery? Or the panic of submission to Islam, described by Houellebecq, which agitates our consciences? It is starting from here – “we human beings are like this, when we are afraid and feel weak, small, exposed, humiliated, vulnerable, we seek refuge in the herd of our fellow men” – that Andrea Nicastro embarks on a journey into the shadows that frighten the Uni and the Others: sent to the Corriere della Sera with many stamps in his passport, among the first to enter the liberated Kabul or the trapdoor where Saddam was captured, Nicastro takes up the title of a famous pop song and writes We are the others. Why betraying democracy unleashes Jihad (Rubbettino Editore), with a preface by Father Alex Zanotelli. A little wise, a little pamphlet, a little reportage, a little pièce. To fish in anthropology as in cooking recipes, in historical reconstructions as in interviews. And explain to us what would be possible – nothing but confrontation! – a true meeting of civilizations. “Feeling human people who appear threatening,” says Nicastro, would already be a great start. An approach more to Terzani than to Fallaci: «To understand what these Others think that frighten us. The goal is not to adhere to their reasons or scourge us for our reprehensible behavior. Rather, knowing on what information the Others act, condemning them if and when that is the case, but not judging them mad or enemies because it is simply too tiring to listen to what they have to say ».
We are approaching the twentieth anniversary of September 11th and a question awaits us: is the Twenty Years’ War over? Nì, if we look at the big scenarios: Biden playing the withdrawal from an Afghanistan that is not at all pacified, Isis defeated in Syria and resurgent in Africa … No, if in the third act we enter with Nicastro and his fixer Habib in a small apartment in Kabul and with them we sit down to eat kabuli palau: listening to Habib’s wife, Amina, who intelligently dismantles twenty years of clichés about their machismo and our prostitution, their burqas and our mammoplastics, their polygamy and their our divorces. One that hasn’t gotten much from our export-format democracy: “If I could, I’d tell Western feminists to come to the market early in the morning, before the flies and poisonous dust cover the mutton quarters. If they really think they are better, they come here to live without a refrigerator, without water, without washing machine, without honest policemen. They would need a man too. They would need a neighbor too. And the men would serve them ».
«Yeh hum naheem!We are not that, the Pakistani artists sang in the hellish 2004 of car bombs, to tell the world that the Others are something else. And that despising or demonizing them, crushing them with the help of a Musharraf or an Al Sisi, freezing them in a Gaza Strip or in refugee camps, all this only serves to push the night a little further. When “it would take a Greta Thunberg – writes Nicastro – to cry out to the world the risks of wars and injustices, instead of only the danger of pollution”.
(To return to the Japanese: the first suicide bombers invented them, but today it all ended up in the ceiling of memory, “from the militaristic and fanatical samurai toall you can eat sushi not even eighty years have passed, a breath in history, and I don’t know in eighty years what will be said of the shadid which today frighten us so much: it is possible that they will have vanished together with Islam ”).
Jihad, as was pan-Arabism or the communist struggle in the past, it is a seat on the bus offered to those who feel left on their feet by the West. Come on, there is room: that bus will always be very crowded. Until we decide to get on it and drive it together, the ones and the others. With equal seats. And going in another direction.
May 22, 2021 (change May 22, 2021 | 9:01 pm)
© REPRODUCTION RESERVED