The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

The Islamic State threatens to come to Rome; Italians respond with travel advice

A carabinieri paramilitary car patrols in front of the Colosseum in Rome on Feb. 17.  (Max Rossi/Reuters)

In a recently released video that showed the killing of 21 Christians in Libya, all but one of them Egyptian, the Islamic State issued an ominous warning: “Today we are south of Rome,” one masked militant said. “We will conquer Rome with Allah’s permission.”

To make matters worse, Rita Katz, director of SITE Intelligence Group, pointed out that supporters of the Islamic State have begun using a hashtag to warn of their plan to reach "Rome."

Exactly what "Rome" means to the Islamic State is unclear -- some experts say it may actually be a reference to the United States or Turkey, or even the West in general. But Italy is worried. Libya is just a short boat ride across the Mediterranean. Thousands of refugees already make this journey to Italian shores every year. What's to stop the Islamic State?

As word of  spread across the Italian media, Rome residents took the opportunity to respond to the Islamic State. And they did so in an especially Roman way.

With warnings about the traffic.

(Translation: Remember snow tires or chains if you take the highway. Otherwise we sequester the tank.)

With food recommendations.

A whole load of general complaints about their domestic woes.

And plenty of references to a recent soccer match against a Dutch team.

(Translation: Unfortunately for them, Feyenoord fans have arrived already)

By this point, the Italian responses to the hashtag far outweigh any from Islamic State supporters, and some Italian publications are beginning to wonder how notable the hashtag was to begin with.

But the response does serve as a useful reminder: Italians may be scared of apocalyptic Islamic State warnings, but in their day-to-day life, they have many other issues on their minds.

Related coverage:

The misguided debate about how ‘Islamic’ the Islamic State is

The Islamic State ‘caliphate’ is in danger of losing its main supply route

- The Islamic State's atrocities

The Islamic State is failing at being a state

The Islamic State was dumped by al-Qaeda a year ago. Look where it is now.