Internet platform for studying Xenophobia, Radicalism and Problems of Intercultural communication.

Xenophobic Rhetoric

Xenophobic Rhetoric

In the report on situation in Italy, published by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) in February 2012, it was pointed out that racist and xenophobic statements against the most vulnerable population groups (Africans, Muslims, Gypsies, refugees, and immigrants) have been made by the politicians more frequently of late. Such statements provoke violence against these social groups, lead to discrimination, as well as generally incite racist and xenophobic ideas in the population.

Deputy mayor of the Bernareggio city and member of the „Nord League” (Lega Nord), Stefano Tornaghi resigned after making a statement in which he tried to convince Italian women not to marry Muslims. Tornaghi claimed that the idea of a successful and peaceful marriage between Italians and Muslims is just a „utopia”.

Deputy Minister of Equal Opportunities Michaela Biancofiore resigned from her post the day after joining the new Italian government (May 2013). She did so after making a statement that argued that it was the actions of gays that provoke discrimination against sexual minorities – specifically, gay people forming segregated groups.

On July 14th, 2013, Deputy Speaker of Italian Senate, Roberto Calderoli, who is also a member of the “Nord League” political party, compared the Italian Minister of Integration - Cécile Kyenge – who was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, to an orangutan. “I love animals – bears, wolves, and everyone knows it, but when I see photos of Kyenge, I cannot help noticing that she has certain features of an orangutan, although I am not claiming that she is one”, - said Calderoli. He also argued that Kyenge should have become a Minister in her own country. He was later forced to apologise.

On July 27th Cécile Kyenge had bananas thrown at her at the Democratic Party meeting. In July a high-ranking member of the “Five Star Movement” Di Stefano MP made an anti-Semitic statement after returning from his trip to Israel and Palestine. Not only did he criticise the Israeli government rather harshly, but he also implied that the future of the Jewish community in Italy depends on the policy Israel decides to adopt.

In November 2013 chairman of the “Nord League” Gianluca Buonanno publicly protested against providing aid to black immigrants. He did so by smearing dark paint on his face and claiming that Italians need to be “much darker” now in order to have any hope of receiving social aid. This protest was caused by the fact that black immigrants are provided with free government funded housing, as well as many additional benefits, while indigenous Italian citizens are struggling to survive. Buonanno argues that Italian government is spending too much money on all kinds of aid for the immigrants, while completely neglecting Italian citizens.

The leader of the Left Ecology Freedom (Sinistra Ecologia Libertà) democratic socialist party, Nichi Vendola responded by calling his opponents “racist” and reminding them that “they live in the third millennium and in a civilised country”.

On the one hand, all of this points to the sad fact that the level of xenophobia is extremely high in Italy, but on the other hand, it also proves that xenophobia has not yet reached the highest circles of the local political elite.

On November 12, 2014, Lega Nord leader Matteo Salvini said that riots in Tor Sapienza were a result of “stupid policies of the state” that allowed “uncontrolled migration” and supported manifestations of “racism against Italians”. Another Lega Nord member, MEP Mario Morgezio said that he would personally visit the area and support Italians “who feel under siege in their own homes”. In a statement, Massimo Bitonci, Chairman of “Lega Nord” parliamentary group, claimed that Kyenge “was chosen just because she is black. And this is bad, because a minister should be chosen, because she is competent”.

A Museum of Islam is planned to be built in Venice. Massimo Bitonci commented on this, “We don`t want no Museum of Islam at Venice. Letta should concentrate on the economic crisis instead of thinking about how to favour and defend Islam. The Veneto has bigger problems at the moment”. He added that “if they start building this museum, we will be there every day and night to blockade the building lot”.

On June 25th, 2014 Mayor of Italian Padua Massimo Bitonchi announced that the Crucifix should be placed on all public buildings of the city. On September 4, 2014 he asked the police to intervene in the eviction of several illegal immigrants, saying, “They [immigrants] are living there, owning expensive cars and designer clothes.”

On July 9, Borgosesia mayor from Lega Nord, MEP Gianluca Bonanno suggested the introduction of a fine of 500 euros for gays for public display of affection.

On August 5, 2014 activist of Lega Nord Fabio Rolfi insisted on “forced quarantine” of every immigrant in Milan, due to Ebola epidemic. On August 22, Verona authorities cancelled the concert of a left-wing Neapolitan reggae band 99 Posse, stating that it politicises the festival.

On October 31, it was reported that member of Motta Visconti City Council posted a call to burn Roma in furnaces on Facebook. Radio 24 regularly airs a programme called “Mosquitos” with guests who hold xenophobic views (including glorifying Hitler), hinding behind free speech laws. Visto magazine published a collection of homophobic jokes in August.

On August 25, multiple racist comments were made online after an African woman was elected Miss Livorno.

On October 26, 2014 a neo-Nazi website called Holy War published an article accusing chief rabbi of Merano in provoking racial hatred against Christians.

In 2015, Matteo Salvini was the main source of xenophobic statements from the political class. Salvini regularly used immigrants as a scapegoat, talking about various problems of Italy. On February 15, Salvini proposed to ban illegal immigrants from landing in Italy “leaving them on the high seas.” On April 15, he announced the willingness of League activists to occupy hotels used to receive immigrants and suggested that local authorities refuse to accommodate immigrants in their territory. In the social network Facebook was closed in April 2015 after a statement about the need to “solve the Roma issue” with reference to the Nazi “experience”. June 29, 2015 Salvini said that Muslims “are trying to impose a way of life that the first is incompatible with ours and, referring to an Italian Muslim on a talk show, “You are dangerous, I would not want you to be my neighbour.”

Following a case of urban violence in the city centre of Varese (Lombardy) that saw a baby gang of Latin-Americans (Salvador) attacking a bus driver with a machete, Marco Pinti, secretary of the local section of the Lega Nord, has appealed for the concession to all the Italian citizens of the licence to hold guns and thus, defend themselves against the ‘foreigners’.

The feeling of racial hate or xenophobia has been also expressed publicly in a TV political programme called ‘Piazza Pulita’ broadcasted on 03/03/2015 on the TV channel La7, where the EMP Gianluca Buonanno of the Lega Nord has replied to the actress Dijana Pavlovic of Roma Gypsy origins that her people were to be considered ‘’scam of mankind’’ and by concluding ‘’unfortunately, 90% of your people are like that’’ being rewarded with a huge applause by the audience in the TV theatre. These incidents indicate that xenophobia is prominent in the Italian society and among the political class.

In January 2017, M. Salvini spoke of African immigrants arriving to Italian shores, saying in an interview, "If I become interior minister, I will throw them on African shores with a few nuts and goodbye." Salvini also said: "We have to save everybody, but then send them back to where they came from." Salvini was also very active on social media in 2017. This is what he said about the Italian national soccer team in November 2017: "too many foreigners on the field, from the first division to the Premier League. STOP THE NATION and more room for Italians."

In the election campaign, he said.

In the 2018 election campaign, M. Salvini and S. Berlusconi also allowed hate speech. Thus, Silvio Berlusconi, former prime minister and leader of Forza Italia (FI), took the opportunity to repeat his old theme: all undocumented migrants in Italy are "ready to commit crimes", creating "a social bomb that is about to explode". Salvini, on the other hand, declared that "uncontrolled immigration, invasion ... leads to social conflict."

In 2019-20, Italy will be the first country in the world to have a social bomb that is about to explode.

In 2019-20. Salvini has repeatedly spoken out unfavorably about ethnic minorities and immigrants. His political credo today is this: foreigners and immigrants are sworn enemies, to blame for Italy's economic crisis and social instability. Consequently, a dangerous hostility toward immigration has become the centerpiece of Salvini's campaign. The new catchphrases "Stop immigration!" and "Let's protect Italians from invasion" fuel xenophobic and racist rhetoric against Islamic communities and immigrants with irregular status.

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