Arts & Culture

Vitoria… An Italian princess who sanctifies “Hareem” … and denies the West lies

In the city of Bagheria, on the island of Sicily, Italy, an educated, journalist and author of a brilliant family lives in a wonderful family mansion, representing a rich family balance in literature, art and civilization.

Vitoria obtained at an early age a baccalaureate degree and went to oriental studies for a period of four years in Lebanon, during which she obtained four certificates in the Arabic language, which opened a an easy crossing for the Arab-Islamic heritage, after that she became an Arab “Sicilian princess”, as she lived in the mid-sixties of the last century, with Arab, Islamic and Christian dignitaries

These multiple field experiences allowed her to discover the first secret of life, which is the coexistence of culture, where she says “Culture and dialogue are the basis of life, not only between humans, but also between societies.”

This is what made her explore the Arab and Islamic heritage, through study and coexistence. She admits with pride, “Do not forget that Sicily was for the past two centuries a civilization that belongs to the borders of the Islamic world, and it has a wonderful architectural and human heritage in coexistence between religions during the Norman era. In the Palatina Church, you will be surprised by exquisite decorations that were brilliantly decorated by Muslim Arabs in the ceilings.

Vitoria in the early 1980s made a great cultural uproar. In 1982, her book “The Hareem, an Arab Diaries of the Sicilian Princess,” achieved amazing sales, and then it became on the list of “Best Sellers”.

In the decades of the sixties, seventies and eighties of the last century, Aliata with passion the Arab and Islamic books and societies, to transfer that image to the West amidst many surprises, most notably the issue of women. 

As she said, “I found my identity as a woman in the Middle East and over nine years of research and examination, as its women and even if they were illiterate were making an economy out of nothing. They have the right to financial disposition, they sell a gold bracelet to buy milk and convert it to cheese that they sell, to buy more bracelets instead of one, and of course the Western women did not have this innate ingenuity, in addition to that, while the Eastern women had been given the right to inheritance 1400 years ago, Europeans won this advantage only a year 1974. This is a real paradox. “

Obsessed with destroying “clichés”, Aliata wrote a book about the Islamic home and garden in response to what Westerners say that the house is the Arab women’s prison.

At early of nineties, after thirty years of giving in the field of intellectual approximation between East and West, and after the second Gulf War, Aliata received a great civil shock, after a wave of obscurity affecting her writings, and her articles on the Middle East were welcomed in the major Italian newspapers.

 She only received the answer from her friend, the famous Italian writer Aldo Montagnelli, the founder of the newspaper El Gioral, who had a quiet dinner for her.

“Vitoria your articles will not be published anymore . Foreign minister has called newspapers to ban publication of all your articles and dialogues. They say that your writing makes enemies friendly.”

That shock which forced her to enter the silence shell was not the only one, as she began translating the book “Civilization of the Mediterranean” written by American Jew Shlomo Quatin, based on the Jewish archive called “The Funeral Records”.

Those rare documents that were found during excavation works at the Synagogue of Ben Ezra in Cairo, which contain Hebrew manuscripts and letters written by Jews during the Fatimid and Ayyubid periods, testify in them the personal, commercial and financial freedom granted to them in those times when the  Mediterranean sea was an open space for freedom of movement without borders and barriers, and it lives a real globalization without religious, racial or economic differences, as if the modern world had left its modernity behind its back for centuries.

“I translated the huge book, and gave up its financial and moral rights, but all publishers refused to publish it. Those people do not want the world to know that the Mediterranean at time of the Fatimids and the Ayyubids was full of tolerance and acceptance of the other, and people during that era were living within the framework of the human participant, far from the wars of religions and closed ideologies. “

The skilled Princess of Sicily, who is fluent in seven languages, continues her noble humanitarian mission, as she has been working for years on the production of a special documentary on the castle and church of Palatina that Christians and Muslims contributed to the construction of it in the height of the holy religious wars. To summarize in the picture the rejection of intolerance, as she insists that culture restores the human image trampled by the feet of politics.

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