Italy’s influential Northern League Party has stood out over the past decade for its particular knack in finding new ways of offending people based on country of origin and color of skin. In 2003, Umberto Bossi, founder of the party, which once espoused separatism, told an interviewer that police should open fire on the boatloads of undocumented Africans arriving on Italian shores, calling the would-be immigrants “bingo-bongos.” Other Northern League pols have proposed everything from separate trains for immigrants to banning the building of new mosques and even prohibiting the serving of kebabs and other non-Italian food in city centers.
The latest swipe by the Northern League attempts some kind of holiday spirit. The league-led city council in Coccaglio, a small town east of Milan, has launched a two-month sweep from Oct. 25 to Dec. 25 to ferret out foreigners without proper residency permits. It has been dubbed Natale Bianco, or “White Christmas.”
Claudio Abiendi, a longtime Lega Nord member who leads security policy on the city council, told the daily La Repubblica that he came up with the initiative as a way “to start cleaning things up” in Coccaglio, a town of 7,000 with some 1,500 immigrant residents. “For me, Christmas isn’t the celebration of hospitality, but rather of Christian tradition and our identity,” he said. Abiendi also told the paper that approximately half of the 150 inspections already carried out turned up people who no longer had a right to reside in Italy. He said he would report them to national authorities.