Italy’s Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni is concerned that religious sites such as the Vatican could soon become prime targets for Muslim terrorists. Military action, said Gentiloni, is inevitable to address religious persecution. In an April 7 interview in Italian daily Corriere della Sera, Gentiloni said that European leaders have been negligent in the face of persecution committed against religious minorities elsewhere in the world.
Gentiloni said, "Responding to terrorism inevitably implies military consequences. This may shock some people but these groups must also be dealt with on a military footing. I won't use the word 'combat' to avoid being painted as a crusader." The Italian military, Gentiloni said, is currently training local forces in Somalia to address the Islamist Al-Shabaab militants who are linked to the Al-Qaeda terrorist network. It was Al-Shabaab terrorists who killed at least 150 people in Kenya on April 2, having singled out Christians for murder. Kenya is also involved in fighting Al-Shabaab in Somalia.
The Islamic State is currently involved in the struggle among various groups to control Libya, which has long had close economic ties to Italy. The southernmost Italian island lies only 70 miles from neighboring Tunisia. Violence in the North African Magreb region has spurred illegal immigrants to cross in fragile watercraft.
Italy, said Gentiloni previously, is committed to fight in Libya as part of an international force. In the Corriere della Serra interview, Gentiloni said that Italy may also make military contributions to fighting terrorism in Nigeria, which has been sundered by the terrorist Muslim sect known as Boko Haram. The targeting Christians by Muslim terrorists, as in Nigeria, makes manifest the imperative to give aid, said Gentiloni, "because it concerns our identity and our roots." He added, "For years Europe has had a bad habit, a mix of selfishness and cowardice that prompts it to turn its gaze elsewhere when it comes to what happens beyond our little old world."
Italy must protect Christian sites such as the Vatican papal state, as well as the Jewish community, said Gentiloni.