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Terrorisme d’inspiration religieuse et liberté de religion en Italie

In response to the need to prevent terrorist attacks, during these last years in Europe the legislators tend to emphasise that terrorism implies additional activities, such as those enabling groups to maintain and further develop radical ideas about Islam and Islamic precepts. Such behaviour should be punishable when it leads to the danger that terrorist acts could be committed. This means that the penal laws are here focused on the dangerous criminal tendency. In other words, when a person endangers the basic elements of a constitutional democracy, the penal sanctions may be imposed against him or her, even though his/her conduct is not directly connected with the (terrorist) attacks that cause injuries, deaths and other material damages. Under the strategy to prevent violent and indiscriminate assaults, even the mere dissemination of messages or images glorifying terrorism may itself be considered a criminal (terrorist) activity. In the lights of the existing terrorist emergency, it could be judged as a heinous crime that, as such, leads to the application of penal sanctions, including restrictions on personal liberties, such as religious liberty.
Moreover, in this field, Italy has developed high-level skill legal tools which, not surprisingly, are now also being used to challenge religion-inspired terrorism. The sophisticated system of “preventive measures” (regulated by the legislative decree of 6 September 2011, better known as ‘the anti-mafia code’) is an illustrative example of that.
The aim of preventive measures is to integrate the Italian system of criminal law. The basic idea is that the protection of fundamental interests of the State (like the maintenance of a good level of security against potential threats) cannot be delegated exclusively to the repressive function of the penal law. This explains why the application of preventive measures is based on ‘symptoms of dangerousness’. In other words, the need to prevent some persons from committing or supporting heinous crimes justifies preventive ante delictum measures.
It remains that, even though the penal law does not formally regulate the preventive measures, the practical consequences of their sanctions are not very different from those related to the penal rules. For example, the application of the preventive measures imply either the prohibition of residence (divieto di soggiorno) in one or more given cities or, in the case of particularly dangerous persons (persona di particolare pericolosità), an order for compulsory residence in a specified municipality (obbligo di soggiorno in un determinato comune). The violation of these provisions is punishable with imprisonment.
Now, after the Italian Parliament approved the 2015 anti-terrorism decree, the preventive measures system can also be applied to combat the current forms of religion-inspired terrorism. More specifically, these measures can be applied to “those who, working in groups or individually, are engaging in preparatory acts, objectively relevant, directed to take part in a conflict in a foreign territory in support of a terrorist organization which pursues the aims laid down in article 270 sexies of the Italian penal code”. This complicates the relationships State-Islam(s), especially in the light of other pressing problems, like those related to immigration.
In this sense, the climate of fear and insecurity has produced some sort of epistemological obstacles, based on which media, many politicians, and public actors, tend to consider Islam and the corresponding groups unable of a factual collaboration with the State. This is because the Islamic organizations are considered ‘others’, different from the denominations deemed more compatible with the traditional system of State-confessions relationship established in Italy until now : a system that has been determined through the implementation of Articles 7 and 8 of the Constitution as well as the 1159/1929 Law, approved during the fascist regime.
In brief, the ways of addressing these problems are now being strongly influenced by the current threat of religion-inspired terrorism. A threat that is accentuated according to the 2018 security decree (no. 113) – also called Salvini decree, named after Matteo Salvini, interior Minister and leader of the far-right League, won a vote in Parliament last December 2018. Not surprisingly, this decree stresses the need to prevent illegal acts perpetuated by both mafia-type organizations and terrorist groups (Articles 16-23). The fact that the 2018 decree does not mention Islam is very significant ; in reality, that absence is notable only for its deafening silence.
On other words, when facing issues regarding religious freedom and the relative constitutional provisions, the attitude of policy-makers is often subject to issues concerning Islam. In the light of the emotional wave resulting from the climate of insecurity and fear, these issues could be influenced, if not manipulated, by the artificial and sensational analyses regarding both the current forms of religion-inspired terrorism and the pressing process of immigration.

D 6 février 2019    AFrancesco Alicino

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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