Candlelight vigil held for Italian activist

Hundreds joined a candlelight vigil for Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni in Cairo on

CAIRO: Hundreds gathered in front of the Italian Embassy in Cairo Tuesday
evening to honor 36-year-old Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni, whose body was
found Friday, hours after a video showing him beaten and blindfolded was
posted online.

The candlelight vigil, organized by young Egyptian activist Muhammad Nusair,
brought together Egyptians, Italians and Palestinians who came to commemorate
a fallen hero.

Arrigoni was an activist with the International Solidarity Movement, a pro-Palestinian group that often sends activists to prevent the Israeli military from carrying out missions in the West Bank and Gaza. The group said Arrigoni had been working with Palestinian farmers and fishermen.

Nusair gathered letters from many of the attendees who wanted to pay their respects to Egidia Beretta, Arrigoni’s mother who is now in Italy.

“We want to let the world know that Vittorio will always be appreciated,” Nusair
said. “This is a man who used to go fishing with the Palestinians in Gaza so he
would guarantee that the Israelis wouldn’t bomb them while they were there.”

Activists wanted to send out a message from Cairo to the people who murdered
Arrigoni as well as the Israeli Defense Forces in the Occupied Territories.

“This is to show that we won’t let one of us die easily. When one dies, we’ll continue in his footsteps; it’s to also show that the people who did this have nothing to do with Islam,” Nusair added.

Arrigoni’s was the first kidnapping of a foreigner in Gaza since Hamas seized
control of the territory in 2007. It highlighted the challenge that Hamas faces from
smaller, extremist factions that consider it too pragmatic.

In the video of Arrigoni, a group identifying itself as “Monotheism and Holy War”
demanded the release of two of its leaders, held by Hamas, in exchange for the

Hamas’ police posted pictures of the suspects on its official website on Monday.
Officials said the men, who included a former Hamas policeman and a Jordanian
activist, belong to a small extremist Islamic group inspired by Al-Qaeda.

Palestinian-American activist Nouri Khouri, however, feels that his death could
have never been at the hands of the people he was struggling to liberate.

“We need a proper investigation, we want to look at the motives of those who
would kill someone like Vittorio, who was exposing the reality of the Israel

Defense Forces in the Occupied Territories.“It’s not in the interest of any Palestinian resistance group to kill Vittorio; they
would lose all credibility.”

Carrying Arrigoni’s worn-out backpack and wearing his necklace, was his best
friend and comrade, Osama Qasha, who said he met Arrigoni back in 2002 when
they joined the International Solidarity Movement for Palestine.

“The final thing he said to me was, ‘stay human’,” said Qasha.

He stressed that Arrigoni was loved by Gazans and respected by activists all
over the world.

“Everyone in Gaza knows him, everyone is crying and mourning; they all loved
him,” said Qasha. “There was one thing Vittorio was bad at: making enemies.”

Qasha said Arrigoni might be gone, but he left a spirit that the world will never

“His body is gone, but he is all of us here today, and he’ll be inside all of those
who come and liberate Palestine,” he added.

Arrigoni’s body was taken from Gaza Strip to the Cairo International Airport.
It was flown to Italy Tuesday night to be buried there.

( / 20.04.2011)

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