The casalesi clan of the camorra -the Neapolitan mafia – has spoken. In the words of a pentito, a ‘traitor’ of the clan working with the authorities, writer Roberto Saviano must be killed “before Christmas”. Plans speak of a bomb along the highway from Naples to Rome, echoeing the horrificly violent Cosa Nostra attack on anti-mafia magistrate Giovanni Falcone in Sicily in 1992.
Roberto Saviano is guilty of having written a fictional work about the camorra in Casal di Principe – casalesi territory. His book, Gomorra, is apparently so close to the truth that the clan boss wants him dead, and in such a way as to set a clear example. That is, after all, how you maintain fear of the clan. Saviano lives “somewhere in the north”, an exile from his beloved city of Napels. With the film from the book winning a Golden Palm at Cannes and representing Italy at the next Academy Awards, there is enough media interest in the writer and he does appear on TV regularily, undeterred by this death threat.
But what’s lacking is the outrage. I remember when Ayatollah Khomeiny issued a fatwa against Salman Rushdie and I find myself wondering what the difference is. Writers from all over the world stood up for him – where are they now? Where is the international media? Where are the tacky world leader statements about the arts and about freedom?
Or are we saving those for the funeral service?