Immigrants protesting against racism in Naples, Italy
Linda Laura Sabbadini

Ramy Shehata is a 13-year-old boy who saved the lives of as many as 50 classmates during a March 20 school bus attack in Italy. The driver, an Italian citizen of Senegalese origin, hijacked the bus, threatening to set it on fire. Shehata secretly — and courageously — sent out an alert on the phone he'd hid when the driver took the students hostage.

Shehata was born in Italy to Egyptian parents. According to Italian law, children of immigrant parents are not eligible to apply for citizenship until they turn 18. After the inicident, Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, leader of the anti-immigration League party, said the boy would be granted citizenship. At the same time, officials are considering revoking the Italian citizenship of Ousseynou Sy, the driver.


TURIN — Ramy was indeed exceptional. He rose to a challenge with great determination. It is right to reward him, because he risked his life for others. He clearly acted with a sense of civic duty and community belonging. He behaved like an emeritus citizen of our country. And it is no coincidence: He feels Italian, his classmates recognize him as such, his teachers do too. The proof of unity, courage and solidarity that the students offered highlights the ability of certain teachers to foster cohesion and a spirit of community and nation in multicultural contexts. It is something that does not happen overnight.

Our schools perform miracles. The majority of foreign children count an Italian child as their best friend. Surveys have found that roughly only one third of children of immigrant parents feel they are foreigners. Most teachers consider them well-integrated. Girls born to immigrant parents quickly adopt Western customs; a growing number of them refuse to be subjugated, want to be free like their Italian peers and have the courage to rebel because they feel they belong to a community that can protect them with its laws. This is the reality of our country. It is not an exceptional event — as data from the Italian National Institute of Statistics and continuous positive news stories have revealed.

Citizenship is not a privilege that can be given and taken away.

These children do not have to prove anything. They are much more integrated than one might think. Ramy may be granted citizenship because he deserves it. But citizenship is not a privilege that can be given and taken away, it is not a prize to those who respect the laws, study, work and pay taxes like us. Why are we considering the possibility of revoking the driver's citizenship and not that of the many Italian mobsters or men who kill their wives? It is as if we were saying that the driver's Senegalese origin represents an indelible mark of infamy. Thus we would establish a condition of inequality, creating a category of second-class Italians whose citizenship can be revoked at will. Our Constitution would not allow such a situation.

Treating children as different from an early age makes them feel frustrated and angry. They will end up believing that they are different because they have another skin color or a different culture of origin, that they are not — and never will be — equal to the others. And their anger will grow and social cohesion will disintegrate. Granting citizenship to all children and not just to one exceptional child means recognizing their lives are normal and encouraging even more integration. It means fostering stronger ties within the community. As late Italian politician Stefano Rodotà once said: "Why nail them to an identity that is not theirs? They are citizens of this country and it must be recognized."

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La Sagrada Familia Delayed Again — Blame COVID-19 This Time

Hopes were dashed by local officials to see the completion of the iconic Barcelona church in 2026, in time for the 100th anniversary of the death of its renowned architect Antoni Guadí.

Work on La Sagrada Familia has been delayed because of the pandemic

By most accounts, it's currently the longest-running construction project in the world. And now, the completion of work on the iconic Barcelona church La Sagrada Familia, which began all the way back in 1882, is going to take even longer.

Barcelona-based daily El Periodico daily reports that work on the church, which began as the vision of master architect Antoni Gaudí, was slated to be completed in 2026. But a press conference Tuesday, Sep. 21 confirmed that the deadline won't be met, in part because of delays related to COVID-19. Officials also provided new details about the impending completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin).

El Periódico - 09/22/2021

El Periodico daily reports on the latest delay from what may be the longest-running construction project in the world.

One tower after the other… Slowly but surely, La Sagrada Familia has been growing bigger and higher before Barcelonians and visitors' eager eyes for nearly 140 years. However, all will have to be a bit more patient before they see the famous architectural project finally completed. During Tuesday's press conference, general director of the Construction Board of the Sagrada Familia, Xavier Martínez, and the architect director, Jordi Faulí, had some good and bad news to share.

As feared, La Sagrada Familia's completion date has been delayed. Because of the pandemic, the halt put on the works in early March when Spain went into a national lockdown. So the hopes are dashed of the 2026 inauguration in what would have been the 100th anniversary of Gaudi's death.

Although he excluded new predictions of completion until post-COVID normalcy is restored - no earlier than 2024 -, Martínez says: "Finishing in 2030, rather than being a realistic forecast, would be an illusion, starting the construction process will not be easy," reports La Vanguardia.

But what's a few more years when you already have waited 139, after all? However delayed, the construction will reach another milestone very soon with the completion of the Mare de Déu tower (tower of the Virgin), the first tower of the temple to be completed in 44 years and the second tallest spire of the complex. It will be crowned by a 12-pointed star which will be illuminated on December 8, Immaculate Conception Day.

Next would be the completion of the Evangelist Lucas tower and eventually, the tower of Jesus Christ, the most prominent of the Sagrada Familia, reaching 172.5 meters thanks to an illuminated 13.5 meters wide "great cross." It will be made of glass and porcelain stoneware to reflect daylight and will be illuminated at night and project rays of light.

La Sagrada Familia through the years

La Sagrada Familia, 1889 - wikipedia

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