Italy: Pig's walkabout on planned mosque site sparks protests

Padua, 12 Nov. (AKI) - Muslims and non-Muslims have slammed the attempted 'descrecation' of a plot of land earmarked for a mosque in the northern city of Padua by members of the anti-immigrant Northern League party who paraded a pig on the site over the weekend.

"We believe in God not in superstition," said local imam Kahlhil Boussuni, quoted by La Repubblica on Monday. "And we intend to build our place of prayer and worship where only the faithful will be permitted to enter."

Giancarlo Galan, the right-wing president of the northern Veneto region, where Padua is located, also voiced his disapproval. "This is a serious and unacceptable act which we pray will not be repeated," he stated.

"This is a shameful gesture that can only fuel hatred," added Padua's left-wing mayor, Falvio Zanonato.

A cross-party delegation of politicians as well as representatives from pacifist, secular and religious organisations on Sunday visited the patch of land located near an industrial zone to express solidarity with local Muslims.

Pigs are considered unclean in the Muslim and Jewish faiths.

"The legality so much vaunted by the Italian right cannot be in one direction only," said local Green party councillor, Aurora D'Agostino, adding that she was filing a formal complaint to local magistrates about the episode.

"Our objective was to attack the left-wing local council which gives immigrants privileged treatment compared to Italians, and to underline the principle of reciprocity: how many Christian churches are there in Saudi Arabia?" said the secretary of Padua's Northern League branch, Maurizio Conte.

Northern League senator and former minister Roberto Calderoli, in October proposed a regular "pig day" in which he threatened to take his pet pig on land where fast-growing Muslim immigrant communities were planning new mosques.

A growing backlash against Muslim and immigrants in Italy, fed in large part by fears of terrorism and other crimes is especially intense in Veneto.

The region has attracted the largest share of Italy's immigrants because of abundant work in factories and farms. At least 10 percent of Padua's 200,000 residents are immigrants.


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