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 - War On Hijab

    Italian MPs launch headscarf clampdown

    Rome - Local members of the far-right Northern League party have declared war on burqas by fining Muslim women who wear the head-covering garment in public.

    The anti-burqa campaign, first launched by the mayor of the small northern town of Drezzo, a Northern League stronghold near Lake Como, has since spread to other towns and has now developed into a national issue after being backed by party members of the European Parliament.

    Mario Borghezio, a member of the European Parliament (MEP) known for his xenophobic views, has issued a statement praising the initiative in Drezzo and describing the burqas as "a symbol of death".

    "Burqas are a symbol of the worst form of Islamic fundamentalism as regards women," Borghezio said, adding that the garments brought to mind images of the hostage-takers who took part in the Russian school massacre.

    "Our citizens are tired of having crime and terrorism on their doorstep. We must launch an offensive against the invasion of Muslims," Borghezio was quoted as saying yesterday.

    Borghezio is joined by Matteo Salvini, another MEP, who wants similar measures to be introduced in Milan.

    "There are too many streets of some areas of Milan that look like Kabul. We must put an end to the policy of tolerance," Salvini told Corriere della Sera.

    The party's anti-burqa campaign started in Drezzo when an Italian woman, Sabrina Varroni, began wearing the garment while taking her children to school after marrying a Moroccan national and converting to Islam.

    Varroni has twice been fined by the town's only traffic warden, who has been asked by the mayor to apply an obscure Italian law dating back to the Fascist era of Benito Mussolini. The bill, introduced in 1931, prohibits people from moving about with their faces covered for security reasons.

    The initiative has been criticised by opposition lawmakers and by Michele Ainis, a legal expert who argues that the law violates Italy's constitution.

    "The law has already been knocked down by the constitutional court. Otherwise you'd have to ban carnival and motorcycle helmets as well," Ainis told Corriere.

    Source: Star
    September 22, 2004.

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