Books: 'Oltre il Velo', on 2nd generation immigrant women

Passions and battles of immigrants' daughters in Italy

25 January, 17:31

(ANSAmed) - ROME, JANUARY 25 - After her book on the silent revolution of women in the Arab and Muslim world in ''Il Paradiso ai Piedi delle Donne'' (''Paradise at Women's Feet'', published by Mondadori in 2012), Francesca Caferri has now shifted her focus to the daughters of immigrants to Italy, the so-called second generation, in a slim e-book by the same publisher.

''Oltre il Velo'' (''Beyond the Veil'') starts off with a criticism of that world of the media which the Repubblica journalist herself belongs to, a world too often drawn to such facile dichotomies as oppression/freedom, veiled/unveiled, and arranged marriage/true love. But she also begins with the story of Khalida, a young mother of Moroccan origins who spoke at Rome demonstrations organised by the group Se Non Ora Quando (SNOQ), in order to demand the right to citizenship for second generation immigrants - a right repeatedly supported by Italian president Napolitano. A member of the Filomena association, Khalida shows up in that day's photos as one of the ''women of Italy'', whose blue headscarf is in no way different from the red scarf worn by others. ''An accessory, nothing more,'' writes the author. In reality, Khalida opted to put it on only after September 11, 2001, when the Twin Towers attack led her to rediscover her religion in meanings that the Islam-equals-terrorism equation seemed to have eliminated. One of the ''new Italians'' included in the book is Sumaya Abdel Qader, author of the book ''Porto il Velo, Adoro i Queen" (''I Wear a Headscarf, and I Adore Queen'', published by Sonzogno, 2008), which focuses on young women like herself, as full of energy as second generation immigrant males but often more ambitious and open-minded. They are young women who instead of feeling divided between two worlds prefer to feel as if they belong to both, as one loves both one's father and one's mother - as Sumaya puts it - without having to choose between them. Then there is also Maya Homsi, ''the closest thing to an Arab Uprising blogger Italy has produced''. Of Syrian origins and living in Bologna, in 2011 she created the Facebook group "Vogliamo la Siria LIBERA" (''We want a FREE Syria'') and became an anti-Assad activist (receiving both insults and threats as a result), but not for this reason does she feel any less Italian.

She now wonders why other Italians don't wake up to the fact that ''democracy is a value that must be safeguarded, and some Italians don't seem to realise this.'' Perfectly integrated in Italy and socially active is also Oujedane Mejri, a young Tunisian teacher at Milan's Polytechnic.

In order to bring together two universes both near and far at the same time (Italy and Tunisia), she founded the Pontes association to tell others like herself that integration is possible - and to tell Italians the same thing. (ANSAmeed).