"Milan can't become, on the eve of the Expo 2015, an Islamic city, a city of Gypsies, full of Roma camps and swamped by foreigners, a city that gives voting rights to immigrants in municipal elections."The comments, which were not an off-the-cuff remark but rather part of a prepared speech that was also posted on the website of Berlusconi's conservative People of Freedom party, were met with open-mouthed disbelief by the leader of Italy's largest centre-left opposition Democratic Party. "Your words are laughable..you're going to need to wear a burqa to avoid people recognising you in the street," he told the Italian leader.
sex and corruption scandals. This month's local elections taking place in Italian cities including Milan and Naples are seen as a key test for his survival. But in last week's first round of voting the centre-left's candidate for mayor of Milan, former Communist Giuliano Pisapia, came in well above the incumbent conservative mayor Letizia Moratti. The Northern business capital has been a conservative stronghold for 20 years.
The controversy to which Berlusconi was referring was whether Milan should allow a mosque to be built in the city. The city's Muslim community requested to build the mosque, saying they now have to hold prayers in makeshift vanues like garages and a disused cycle stadium, according to AKI. Moratti opposes allowing the mosque to be built, saying it would create, "a centre of attraction for Islamic groups from all over Italy who then would not be controllable." But Pisapia says the city's Muslim community should be allowed to have a proper place of worship.
It's unclear why Berlusconi introduced gypsies (Roma) into the equation. There is no issue concerning Roma which is part of the campaign, since both candidates are in favour of dismantling illegal Roma camps on the outskirts of the city. In fact Pisapia has blamed Moratti for being negligent in allowing the camps to be built, according to AKI. Perhaps Berlusconi felt he could get the most leverage by throwing in as many minorities as possible into his diatribe. It's truly a shocking sign of desperation from a centre-right leader. But it is reflective of the dark times Europe is creeping toward today.