While Italy’s government gears up for serious confrontation following ISIS threats to “conquer Rome,” putting the country on high alert and upping security at “sensitive targets,” the Italian rank and file are responding in a typically Italian way: with ridicule.
To a hashtag purportedly created by a jihadist on Twitter, bearing the message #We_Are_Coming_O_Rome, Italians have sent off a bevy of responses, warning the militant Islamists that they will have to deal with heavy traffic, public transportation strikes, high taxes, and tardy trains. Others have resorted, instead, to sending restaurant recommendations or telling invaders where to get a good haircut.
The Italians created their own hashtag, #arriviamoaRoma, where they have continued baiting the jihadists while poking fun at their own problems. One told the militants that if they had a little patience and could wait a while before attacking, the Salerno-Reggio Calabria highway just might be completed. One even offered the Islamic State his mother-in-law, assuring them that she is an “impenitent Catholic.” Seeing this, another offered to gift-wrap his mother-in-law and send her to them.
It seems that the Italians are trying to outdo each other in coming up with clever messages for their would-be invaders. Reading through the hundreds of posts, one finds everything from complaints about local politicians to suggestions of how to beat the restrictive traffic laws for the historic center of Rome. If the Italians are afraid of an imminent assault, they aren’t showing it.
One particularly long train of comments was spawned by a humorous mistake by an ISIS supporter, saying that they were planning an attack on the “leaning tower of Pizza,” instead of “Pisa.”
After Abu Britani was deluged with responses, most of which had a tone of scorn and derision, he sent another tweet with an inadvertent error, which provoked another wave of mockery. He blamed autocorrect for the “pizza” gaffe, but then misspelled the jihadist target city.
The next mass of replies included many words of thanks for the generous offer of including rum with the pizza.
All in all, the Italians on the street are taking the Islamist threat with a grain of salt. They have even taken to reminding their adversaries that this is not their first rodeo.
“Don’t try coming over the Alps on elephants,” said one. “The Romans are wise to that trick now.”
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.