From the Northern League the “Anti-Immigrant” soap that bursts a political clash

In Sansepolcro, a town near Arezzo, the local Northern League has been denounced for having distributed samples of disinfectant to supposedly clean people’s hands from contacts with immigrants. The local sections of Rifondazione Comunista (Left), whose members confirm to have witnessed the event, have attacked the Northern League’s actions. The Northern League denies the accusation and claims that the soap was just an electoral gadget. Many national politicians are raising their objections against such a xenophobic initiative which they believe offends the identity and history of Italian people. Ahmad Giampiero Vincenzo, president of the Muslim Italian Intellectuals Association, consultant for immigration at the Senato’s Committee for Constitutional Affairs, and a member of the Great Mosque in Rome, will present a formal recourse against the Northern League defining its initiative as a serious incitement to racism that resembles similar facts taking place during the Fascist and Nazi regimes.

Work contracts terminated for Muslim employees

Lega Nord Trentino terminated a cleaning contract with a firm composed of Islamic employees.

Don Giuseppe Caldera, in charge of Migrantes and Director of the Missionary Diocesan Centre says it is discrimination and risks instigation of religious hatred. Assou El Bariji, coordinator of immigrant workers for CGIL (left wing Trade Union) in Trentino, denounced the Lega Nord initiative as racist and against the basic principles of the Human Rights’ Charter and the Italian constitution. He accuses the Lega Nord of bigotry and deplores its incapacity to recognize the value and contribution of foreigners to Trentino. The facts are raising political clashes and protests in the region and beyond.

Alessandro Savoi, head of the Lega Nord group explained that their request is motivated by security concerns: it is, indeed, neither secure nor appropriate to allow Islamic workers to move freely within their offices and to have access to their computers. Moreover, they were found sleeping on the office’s sofas.

Proposed burqa ban in France ripples into Italy

After six months, the French parliamentary committee has released a 200-page report proposing an act banning the burqa and the niqab in public services and offices. However, the ban wouldn’t extend to all public spaces and it wouldn’t necessarily be a criminal offense.

The French government considers the burqa an offense to French national values. The strong French position expressed by President Sarkozy and the content of the parliamentary committee report, have ignited a political debate in Italy.

Mara Carfagna, the ministry for equal opportunities claims that the burqa is not welcome in our country and suggests a law banning this form of veiling in public spaces. In her opinion, indeed, the burqa is not a religious symbol but an abuse of power by men against women. The ban would be a crucial way to help young immigrant women to escape from ghettos where they are supposedly confined.

Franco Frattini, the Italian foreign minister doesn’t agree with a legal ban of the burqa, preferring to direct the argument towards a wider commitment to integration. The Lega Nord, instead, subscribes to the French position considering personal freedom to be balanced with the protection of security.

Differing opinions on the proposed ban exist from group to group. Four political initiatives link the burqa and the niqab to security: the Lega Nord, Souad Sbai (PDL), UDC and the PD (Demcratic Party), who proposes to allow religious, ethnic or cultural freedom in garment choice on the condition that faces remain uncovered. Of Muslim groups, Ahmad Giampier, president of Muslim Italian Intellectuals supports a ban, while Yunus Distefano, COREIS’ spokeman, wants to ensure Islam isn’t seen as a fundamentalist ideology. He believes the veil is a spiritual symbol but unfortunately, some misuse it. However., he feels this is an anomaly, and isn’t Islamic.