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Basta burkini e kebab

swimmingTwo stories out of Italy where mounting racism has become a signature of the right-wing coalition of Silvio Berlusconi, the right-wing separatist Lega nord, and the neo-fascist Alleanza Nazionale. Following the persecution of the Roma and the daily indignities suffered by immigrants held in detention centres or exploited by the black economy, come the efforts to ‘de-foreignise’ Italy’s public places.

In the town of Capriate San Gervasio, kebab shops, phone shops, as well as pubs and bars of “an ethnic characteristic” are to be outlawed from the town centre. It isn’t racist, said the Councillor responsible for commerce and security, it is merely that there are few parking spaces in the centre and that those used by these businesses would end up clogging the entire town. As The Bergamo News points out, the same does not seem to apply to shops, bars and restaurants owned by ‘real Italians’.

The burkini, already causing scandal in France this week, also made headlines in Italy where, according to Il Manifesto, a burkini-clad bather was forced to leave a swimming pool in Verona due to the complaints of mothers that she was scaring their children. When questioned about the matter, Silva Polo, responsible for the municipal pools in Verona, claimed that the woman was infringing no rule by wearing her burkini. She expressed regret that the woman had never returned to the pool where she has every right to swim. Moreover, the case occurred several months ago but has only now reached the press. This demonstrates precisely how the panics about ‘multiculturalism gone wild’ circulates with situations that occur in one country very quickly being made reality in another.

For more on Questioning the European ‘crisis of multiculturalism’, please click here.

Alana Lentin