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Anti-immigration party seeks rights for ‘native Italians’
If you believe the latest poster from the Northern League, Italians face the same fate as Native Americans if they do not keep illegal immigration in check.
The poster, plastered across Milan, located in the northern heartland of this populist party, shows a picture a man wearing the traditional feathered headgear of a tribal chief.
Getting rid of illegal immigrants has long been a rallying cry for the party, which styles itself as the defender of northern Italy under siege by foreigners and Roman politicians.
Italy is not only a major transit point for thousands arriving by boat from around the world, but also a place offering hope of a better life for eastern Europeans including Albanians and Romanians.
The most vivid images are usually those of Africans arriving at one of Italy’s islands, suffering from thirst, hunger and overexposure.
The Northern League’s leader, Umberto Bossi (pictured below), has never been shy of expressing his contempt for immigrants.
A minister in former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government, he once described them as “bingo bongos” and on another occasion called on the coastguard to blow them out of the water whenever they drifted near Italy’s shores.
The appearance of Roma or gypsy camps on the outskirts of their cities has also raised concern among Italians about crime and other problems blamed on illegal immigration.
Nicoletta Maggi, a party spokeswoman who spoke of “savage immigration” sweeping across the country, told Reuters the poster should not be taken to the letter.
Maggi said Bossi borrowed the idea from a poster for the Lega Dei Ticinesi, a small Swiss party with a similar policy against illegal immigrants.
The issue has not been discussed much by candidates ahead of the April 13-14 election, however.
Immigration came in sixth on a list of voters’ concerns in a poll in left-leaning La Repubblica daily. The top three issues were all economic: raising salaries and pensions, controlling inflation and reducing tax.