Pig’s walkabout on planned mosque site sparks protests

Italy’s former deputy education minister, Mariella Mazzetto, has sparked protests after parading a pig on the site of a planned mosque in the northern Italian city of Padua. Mazzetto, a member of the populist, anti-immigrant, right-wing party, said the act was in defense of maintaining Italian identity. Pigs are considered an unclean animal in Islam, making the act extremely insensitive for Muslims. Several officials across political lines have condemned Massetto’s offense, including Giancarlo Galen, the right wing president of the Veneto region, Padua’s left-wing mayor Flavio Zononto, and Green party councillor Aurora D’Agostino. In October, Northern League senator and former minister Roberto Calreroli proposed a regular pig day, in which he threatened to take his pet pig on land where Italy’s Muslim communities were planning new mosques. Northern Italy has seen a jump in share of the country’s immigrants, due largely to labor sought for farm and factory work.