HUFFINGTON POST
11/25/2015 02:51 pm ET Updated Nov 25, 2015

Why Italy's Leader Plans To Tackle Terrorism With Culture

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has pledged to spend $1 billion of a new security budget on the arts.

ROME -- Italy will respond to growing terror threats in Europe in an appropriately Italian way -- by increasing funding to museums, theaters and concerts.

Prime Minister Matteo Renzi laid out a plan Tuesday, which includes 2 billion euros ($2.1 billion) in new spending, to ramp up security in the wake of the Paris attacks. Of the allotted funds, $1 billion would be spent on security and defense purposes and the other $1 billion would go to cultural programs.

"What happened in Paris signaled a step-up in the cultural battle that we are living," Renzi said at a speech at the Capitoline Museum in Rome.  "They imagine terror, we answer with culture. They destroy statues, we love art. They destroy books, we are the country of libraries."

A soldier patrols near the Colosseum on Wednesday. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said in his security budget announceme
FILIPPO MONTEFORTE via Getty Images
A soldier patrols near the Colosseum on Wednesday. Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said in his security budget announcement that $530 million would be earmarked for the Italian armed forces.

In an attempt to ease relations between marginalized populations and Italians, the government will invest more in fringe and immigrant neighborhoods in large cities, the Financial Times reports.

Additionally, every 18-year-old in the country will be given $530 to spend on cultural activities such as concerts and theater productions.

Renzi's plans come amid fears of terror attacks during Pope Francis' Jubilee Year of Mercy, which is due to begin Dec 8., when millions of pilgrims are expected to descend on Rome. The self-styled Islamic State signaled to the Vatican in March that it intends to attack. 

The prime minister's proposed budget would be largely funded by a delayed corporate income tax bill, which was expected to revitalize the country's slowing economy. There is expected to be a major pushback from Italian businesses and it is unclear whether the plan will pass in parliament, according to the FT.

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