All of Europe is consumed figuring out how to eliminate the domestic danger posed by the Islamic State and other terror groups, but Italy thinks it has a solution: paying 500,000 people not to be bad.
Come mid-September, 500,000 18-year-olds will receive vouchers that amount up to $500 in cultural activities, namely concerts, movies and museums, The Washington Post reports. The total cost is expected to amount to $300 million.
“It sends a clear message — a welcome for those who reach the age of 18 and a reminder of how crucial culture is, both for personal enrichment and for strengthening the social fabric of the country,” program manager Tommaso Nannicini said.
Prime Minister Matteo Renzi first announced the program last year and said it would function as a method to win on an ideological level against terror organizations, as opposed to just engaging in military efforts. Renzi forwarded the proposal a few days after the Paris terrorist attack, which killed 130 people.
“They imagine terror, we answer with culture,” Renzi said. “They destroy statues, we love art. They destroy books, we are the country of libraries.”
Since the youth unemployment rate is 35 percent in Italy, the idea is to occupy youths’ free time with cultural activities that support the backbone of the country, so they don’t turn to radical ideology.
Several Muslim communities think the program is a trap designed to coax out Muslim youth and make them easily identifiable, so that police can start monitoring for any suspicious activities. But the program doesn’t discriminate based on race or religion.
Unlike France and Belgium, Italy has been successful so far in blocking any major terror attacks.
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