Red alert

The custody of a sixteen year old boy in Catania, Sicily, has been transferred – against the boy’s will – from his mother to his father. This is unusual in Italy, where mothers tend to be favoured over fathers, and even more so in Sicily, where traditional roles die hard. The mother’s furious, the boy’s furious, the only person who seems to be happy is the father. Why? Because his son, with the help of a local magistrate, has been rescued from the pernicious maws of an extremist group. Which one? The local Tienanmen chapter of Italy’s Giovani comunisti (young communists). It’s not exactly Al Qaida. Incensed, the secretary of Rifondazione Comunista has asked the President of Italy for an explanation.

Except that, as with most stories in Italy, this one doesn’t quite add up. The mother’s lawyer says one thing, the local magistrate another. In the meantime, the boy, whose father has accused him of hanging out with drug-riddled subversives, is studying for make-up exams and going to the beach. What makes this a story is the odd – and justifiable – anxiety in Berlusconi’s Italy that basic political rights are being eroded.

If you want to read what La Repubblica has to say about the story, click here.

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