Will it be the Italians that will wake Europe?

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi does not get good press on the best of days. I’m certain he will get the very worst after this. That would be a sign that he’s moving in the right direction.

We must wish the Italians the very best and hope Premier Berlusconi retains the courage to carry his program through.

As for the Left-Liberals, nothing better may be expected of them. They are no different than our home grown Harbans Mukhias.

– Namaste

By Nick Squires in Rome

Italy does not want to become a “multi-ethnic” country and will continue its newly adopted policy of sending boatloads of immigrants and asylum seekers back to North Africa, the prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, said.

Previous Left-wing governments had “opened the doors to clandestine migrants coming from other countries, with an idea of a multi-ethnic Italy,” Mr Berlusconi said. But that kind of society was “not our idea”, he added, as he sought to reassure Italians who were alarmed at the number of immigrants pouring into the country, particularly from eastern Europe and Africa.

The prime minister’s vision of Italy was condemned by the centre-Left opposition. “Yes, Mr Premier, we have a different idea of Italy: multi-ethnic, pluralistic, free,” said Giovanna Melandri, of the Democratic Party.

“A country in which the colour of your skin, or race or religion doesn’t matter, but, rather, honesty and sincerity of heart do.” Since launching a tough new policy on boat people last week, Italy has turned back six boats carrying a total of 1,500 immigrants and asylum seekers which were trying to reach the country’s southernmost outpost, the island of Lampedusa.

The vessels were escorted back to Libya, the most popular jumping off point for clandestine immigrants, by the Italian coast guard and navy.

The boat people, mostly from sub-Saharan Africa and the Horn of Africa, trek across the Sahara and pay people smugglers thousands of pounds in the hope of securing a new life in Europe.

In the past, Italy would accept the immigrants and take them to the mainland for processing and identification before deciding whether to grant them asylum or some other form of protection.

The new approach was condemned by the UN’s refugee agency, Medecins Sans Frontieres, the Vatican and Italian opposition MPs, who called it “a disgrace”.

Mr Berlusconi, 72, dismissed the criticism, saying that from now on only those who met conditions for political asylum and set foot on Italian soil would be allowed into the country.

“I see no scandal,” he said. “It’s clear that in the sea we will lend assistance” to boat people. When migrants were rescued in international waters, Italy had the right not to take them in, he said.

On Sunday another boat, this time carrying 240 immigrants, was stopped by Italian patrol boats and escorted back to Libya.

The interior minister, Roberto Maroni, who is a member of the anti-immigrant Northern League party, part of the ruling coalition, hailed the return of migrants as “historic”.

He added that the “get-tough policy will continue as long as the boats set out” from the North African coast.

The government also has plans to force doctors and teachers to go to the authorities if they suspect their patients or pupils are illegal immigrants. Previous Left-wing governments had “opened the doors to clandestine migrants coming from other countries, with an idea of a multi-ethnic Italy,” Mr Berlusconi said.

The prime minister’s vision of Italy was condemned by the centre-Left opposition. “Yes, Mr Premier, we have a different idea of Italy: multi-ethnic, pluralistic, free,” said Giovanna Melandri, of the Democratic Party.

“A country in which the colour of your skin, or race or religion doesn’t matter, but, rather, honesty and sincerity of heart do.” Since launching a tough new policy on boat people last week, Italy has turned back six boats carrying a total of 1,500 immigrants and asylum seekers which were trying to reach the country’s southernmost outpost, the island of Lampedusa.

The vessels were escorted back to Libya, the most popular jumping off point for clandestine immigrants, by the Italian coast guard and navy.

By Deepa Babington
Reuters
Sunday, May 10, 2009 11:29 AM

ROME (Reuters) – Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s open rejection of the vision of a multi-ethnic Italy sparked sharp debate Sunday, winning praise from far-right allies and accusations of racism from the left.

Berlusconi’s conservative government has won public favor by cracking down on illegal immigration, allowing the premier to go a step further as he defended Saturday a new policy to deport migrants to Libya before they arrive on Italian shores.

“The left’s idea is of a multi-ethnic Italy,” Berlusconi told a news conference. “That’s not our idea, ours is to welcome only those who meet the conditions for political asylum.”

Long a country of emigrants, Italy in recent years has been grappling with an influx of poor African migrants arriving on its shores and Eastern Europeans seeking work, sparking fears over crime and a loss of national identity.

Opposition lawmakers denounced the premier’s comments as racist and told him to accept Italy would inevitably become multi-cultural whether Italians liked it or not.

“It’s not for me or Berlusconi or anyone else to decide, for this will be the century of multi-ethnic societies,” center-left leader Dario Franceschini said, accusing Berlusconi of using the topic to divert attention from his marital woes and a recession.

France, Great Britain and Germany are European nations with far more immigrants than us but they’ve worked for integration.”

Monsignor Mariano Crociata, secretary of the influential Italian Bishops Conference, defended multiculturalism as a “value” that already existed in Italy and instead cited poor inter-cultural relations as the real problem.

Even Leftist leader Piero Fassino — who a day earlier broke ranks with party members by supporting Berlusconi’s new deportation policy — said the latest comments went too far.

“He’s wrong, and seriously so,” Fassino told the Corriere della Sera newspaper. “Let’s just accept with honesty that Italy — like France and Germany already are — will become a multi-ethnic, multicultural and multi-religious country.”

But Berlusconi’s affirmation — which made headlines in Italian newspapers and pushed his ongoing divorce drama to the inside section — was hailed by the Northern League, a junior government ally that says unchecked immigration threatens Italy.

“This underscores a revolutionary change from the past,” said the far-right party’s Roberto Calderoli, recommending honorary party membership for Berlusconi.

Last week, an outcry erupted when a League official jokingly said some Milan subway coaches should be reserved for Milanese.

Immigration has been high on the political agenda ever since Berlusconi took power a year ago pledging a clampdown on illegal immigrants that his government blames for a spike in crime.

“Once upon a time there were just a few of us defending Italian identity, now with the prime minister’s words we are in the majority,” Defense Minister Ignazio La Russa said.

Ps – My acknowledgment to Lawrence Auster’s View from the Right

Reference:

The Telegraph

The Washington Post

–Varta–

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