European Interest

Tough times ahead for Italy’s immigrants

Flickr/Alessandro Spadavecchia/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Italy’s immigrants are growing increasingly anxious about their future in the country, as the far-right party Lega moves closer to forming an alliance with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement. The two parties won more than 50% of the vote in the March 4 elections.

In an interview with the Observer, Izzedin Elzir, imam of Florence and president of the Union of Islamic Communities of Italy, said: “Open, transparent mosques are an integral part of our urban, social and cultural fabric”. But the new coalition government in-the-making is expected to get tough on immigrants.

As reported by The Guardian, Matteo Salvini, leader of Italy’s League party, and the Five Star leader, Luigi di Maio, unveiled a joint policy document last week that contained plans to build more detention centres to accelerate the deportation of an estimated 500,000 undocumented migrants and review migrant rescue missions at sea after they arrive on Italy’s shores. The agreement also calls for a renegotiation of the Dublin refugee treaty, and for “unregistered” Roma camps to be shut down.

As for the mosques, the document calls for imams to be registered with the state. Unauthorised mosques will face “immediate” closure while proposals for the construction of new ones and their funding will be scrutinised.

“In regards to what they are saying about the rules,” said Elzir, “I suggest they respect our Italian constitution, which speaks about the very religious freedom that they are trying to limit.”

According to The Guardian, Salvini’s popularity has strengthened since the elections. Support for the party stands at around 25%, according to the most recent opinion polls, up from 17% in March. The 45-year-old pledged to put “Italians first” during the election campaign and in the midst of the alliance’s negotiations said a new administration would begin only if Lega was given free rein at cracking down on “the business” of illegal immigration. “If I go into government, I want to do what I promised to do,” Salvini said.

In a Facebook video last week, Salvini told supporters he would rid the country of “delinquents” and dismantle the previous administration’s “€50bn [£44bn] migration reception” policy.

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