As Europe struggles to counter the threat posed by the Islamic State and other militant groups, the Italian government is set to launch a scheme that will take the fight to a different level.
Starting mid-September, more than half a million 18-year-olds living in Italy are eligible to receive vouchers valued at more than $500 each. The vouchers will allow recipients to visit museums free, go to concerts for reduced prices or watch movies.
“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,” Tommaso Nannicini, the official in charge of the program, was quoted as saying last week.
According to the Italian government, the program is also intended to send a message to militant groups. When the scheme was announced last year, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi implied that extremists should be countered not only militarily, but also ideologically. The announcement came days after militant attacks in Paris killed at least 130 people. “They imagine terror, we answer with culture. They destroy statues, we love art. They destroy books, we are the country of libraries,” Renzi reportedly said, referring to a “cultural battle.”
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Image courtesy of Alessandro Di Meo/European Pressphoto Agency