Many people gathered last 9th May to be part of the torchlight organised by the Jewish Community of Rome and the Community of Sant’Egidio.
The lights of the Coliseum were switched off as a sign of solidarity towards the Christians victims of discrimination and persecution in Nigeria and other parts of the world.
The event, took place at the Coliseum - symbol of the city of Rome. The Coliseum itself narrates the stories of the Christian martyrs at the time of the Roman Empire, on the day of remembrance of the victims of terrorism celebrated in Italy. The Municipality of Rome, the County (Provincia), and the Lazio Region adhered to the initiative.
Riccardo Pacifici, President of the Jewish Community in Rome, said: ‘We do not want Christians being forced to leave Africa’.
The Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni referred to the story of the persecution of both Christians and Jews, and said: ‘Many times we received the solidarity of Christians on the threats to the Jewish communities in various parts of the world. We are here today to present our solidarity, and to demonstrate against every offence to the human dignity’.
‘We cannot remain indifferent to what Christians in Nigeria and other places in the world are going through – Marco Impagliazzo, President of the Community of Sant’Egidio, said – Being Christians by definition means being a sign of the living together.’
‘We are switching off the Coliseum because the religious freedom is the unavoidable pillar of human dignity’ – said the Major of Rome Gianni Alemanno. ‘Where religious freedom is threatened, the dignity of people is hit at its very nature’. The President of the County Nicola Zingaretti underlined ‘the need to bound a firm stance against every hatred to the strong willingness to build linkages to boost dialogue and hope’.
The Minister Andrea Riccardi referred to the vigil organised by the Pope John Paul II at the Coliseum in 2000, to invite everyone not to underestimate the strength of memory and prayer, while highlighting the importance of the place chosen for the torchlight. ‘It is important being here to signal and remember what is happening in the world, in front of a place being the symbol of Christian persecutions. The candles lighten up this evening say we do not accept the silence, and that we did not get used to the sad voices of the Christian men and women who are killed and terrorised. Men and women terrorised by the violence that accesses places of worship and prayer to operate a religious cleansing - he said – This is something terrible and the Italian Government is dedicating its
attention today, as it has always done.’
The last, moving, contribution was given by Regina, Nigerian and Christian, who has been living in Italy for the last 10 years – she offered the testimony of the grief of those who remained there and the concern of the families. ‘In my country terrorism is willing to divide Christians from Muslim – we are here today to affirm strongly hatred is not going to win.’
Great the support for this event. Among the others, we mention the support of the the President of UCOII, the Union of the Islamic Italian communities. His message underlines ‘the Islam we believe to is the Islam of living together, of sharing and solving peacefully every conflict. We deny with all our energies whatever doctrine denying these absolute and unchangeable principles’.
While the lights of the Coliseum were switching off, Mario Marazziti, summarised the meaning of this gesture: ‘Every time one Christian is murdered, a light in the world gets off’.