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What is the Omerta?

Omertà (, Italian pronunciation: [omerˈta]) is a Southern Italian code of silence and code of honor that places importance on silence in the face of questioning by authorities or outsiders; non-cooperation with authorities, the government, or outsiders; and willfully ignoring and generally avoiding interference with the illegal activities of others (i.e., not contacting law enforcement or the authorities when one is aware of, witness to, or even the victim of certain crimes). It originated and remains common in Southern Italy, where banditry or brigandage and Mafia-type criminal organizations (like the Camorra, Cosa Nostra, 'Ndrangheta and Sacra Corona Unita) are strong. Similar codes are also deeply rooted in other areas of the Mediterranean, including rural Spain, Crete (Greece), and Corsica, all of which share a common or similar historic culture with Southern Italy. It also exists, to a lesser extent, in certain Italian-American neighborhoods, especially in neighborhoods where the Italian-American Mafia has strong influence, as well as in Italian ethnic enclaves in countries such as Germany, Canada, and Australia, where Italian organized crime exists. Similar codes of silence have been observed in Jewish-American, Greek-American, African-American, Hispanic, and certain working class Irish-American neighborhoods. Retaliation against informers is common in criminal circles, where informers are known as "rats" or "snitches"...


Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood. (Marie Curie)