Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding

Opinion Editorials, April 2011


Al-Jazeerah History


Mission & Name  

Conflict Terminology  


Gaza Holocaust  

Gulf War  




News Photos  

Opinion Editorials

US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)




 In memory of Vittorio Arrigoni

By Zaki Khalid

Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, April 27, 2011

It is true when they say humanity as a concept is not bound to any religion, race, caste, color or creed. Humanity, is a universal phenomenon. In this particular piece, I would like to share the story of Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni who shared the pains and sorrows of the oppressed people of Palestine.

Vittorio Arrigoni (1975-2011) was a member of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), a Palestinian-led movement committed to resisting the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine without consorting to any violent means whatsoever. As part of ISM, Vittorio regularly assisted every ship that came to Gaza with food/medical supplies. He would take part in anti-Israel protests near buffer zones along the Gaza border. He would bow down on the sands of Palestine whenever he would return after being repeatedly deported by Israeli naval authorities.

Vittorio was far from being someone who could be called a "rebel". He was a non-conformist to social injustice, oppression of the weak, abuse of basic human rights and ideological fascism. He was always vocal against the torture and killings of Palestinian men, women and children and other horrible actions by the state of Israel built upon a fascist ideology known as Zionism.

On August 28 2008, he received a Palestinian passport from former Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haaneya which he would show to his friends with pride. Standing on the sunny coastline of Gaza Strip where he would notice aid flotillas approaching from the horizon while puffing to his pipe, Vittorio would jump in the air, wave his hands with victory signs and rush-off to receive the guests holding the Palestinian flag high. With splats of mud on his clothes and bruise marks on his body, he would help the volunteers unload aid supplies and deliver them at the right places, all the while looking at Israeli navy officers in the eyes when he sensed they would make mischief.

This was one side of Vittorio: On the other side, one could see the child within him as he would go down the Gaza markets and sit down among a group of war-torn Palestinian children, narrating stories of hope and liberty. He would remind them that it is always darkest before the dawn and that one day, all the sacrifices of their parents and elders would bear fruit in the form of Palestine's eventual liberation. He understood that amongst all, it are the children of Palestine who are most affected by all the tensions taking place on both sides of the border. The psychological disturbances could be easily noticed. Where he spared time for the Gaza Strip as a whole, Vittorio would make special arrangements to 'hang out' with Arab kids.

Yet, what even fewer people had knowledge of was the constant threats looming over Vittorio's head. When a few of his Arab friends would inquire about his absence, Vittorio would tell them that he was kept in lockup by Israeli authorities and beaten up. Israel's domestic intelligence would accuse him of being 'an aide to Hamas militants', he would aptly deny the baseless charges and come back again to serve the people of Palestine.

On April the 14 (Thursday), Vittorio Arrigoni was reported missing yet again. However, this time it was found that he was abducted purportedly by a group of "al Qaeda militants" who were opposed to his presence in the region. A video surfaced on the Internet hours later which showed him being brutally beaten and eventually hung in the room. Authorities later recovered his body.

It is of interest to note that Vittorio's killing, or rather planned murder, comes at an important time i.e. just before Flotilla-II campaign to Gaza (of which Israel has again sent a warning to Turkey and associated countries). The Irish Times newspaper and Palestine Telegraph both report that Hamas alongwith hundreds and thousands of Palestinian mourners in the Gaza Strip have straightforwardly accused the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad of being responsible for Vittorio's abduction and murder. The primary question, they ask is, do you think his killing serves Palestine's interests? In the past, it has already been established that Israel was responsible for the murder of Rachel Corrie.

Vittorio Arrigoni shall always smile with glistening eyes in our memories. He was a fine example of 'humanity beyond borders' who tried to do whatever he could in helping out those whom he knew were facing the agonies of time at the hands of a fascist state. Hamas officials, citizens of Palestine and most importantly the youngsters in Gaza will remember this Italian for the rest of their lives. His legacy of perseverance, steadfastness and determination shall live on. Foremost in continuing with his mission is none other than his mother Egidia Beretta who has announced to take part in the upcoming Flotilla-II aid ship to Gaza renamed "Stay Human", the trademark slogan associated with Vittorio.

The writer is a student based in Lahore, Pakistan




Opinions expressed in various sections are the sole responsibility of their authors and they may not represent Al-Jazeerah & &