All jokes lead to RomeAll jokes lead to Rome

Italians welcome IS with ‘travel tips’

Islamic State’s #We_Are_Coming_O_Rome hashtag hijacked by denizens of the city

A meme tweeted on Saturday welcomes the Islamic State to Europe with an image from the Hollywood blockbuster 'Gladiator.' (Twitter/@Cathy_Crawley)
A meme tweeted on Saturday welcomes the Islamic State to Europe with an image from the Hollywood blockbuster 'Gladiator.' (Twitter/@Cathy_Crawley)

Italy has been swept by alarmist rumors in recent days since the posting of a video showing the Islamic State group’s beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya, which is a former Italian colony.

The tape, released earlier in February, included a warning that Libya, a few hundred kilometers across the Mediterranean, could be used as a staging ground for attacks on Italy and that IS fighters were “at the south of Rome.”

After the release of the tape, Islamic State supporters began using the hashtag #We_Are_Coming_O_Rome to signify the impending advance of the self-styled caliphate on the city and on the seat of the Catholic Church in the Vatican.

For the government in Italy, the prospect of IS-inspired attacks was cause for real concern. Indeed, the Italian foreign minister said last week that Rome would weigh participating in any military intervention to keep Islamic State forces from advancing in Libya.

But while some in Italy fear the risk that terrorists, mingled among boatloads of migrants, could reach Italy from Libya, others have greeted the prospect with humor.

They exploited the #We_Are_Coming_O_Rome Twitter hashtag to offer mock travel advice to IS operatives, including warnings about Rome’s terrible traffic congestion and restaurant recommendations.

AP and AFP contributed to this report.

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