Giorgia Meloni, Italy's new right-wing PM, uses debut speech to target illegal immigrants

Meloni has criticized Italy's approach towards illegal immigrants, calling for a zero-tolerance policy

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Wednesday, October 26, 2022, 12:07 AM IST
article-image
Italy's newly elected right-wing Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni | Twitter/@JacekWRaczka72

Italy's new right-wing leader Giorgia Meloni -- who has widely been called the most right-wing Italian leader since World War 2-era fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, addressed the Italian parliament for the first time on Tuesday, and used the opportunity to make good on one of her key campaign pledges -- taking aim squarely at the African migrants who cross the Mediterranean Sea on boats, looking for a better life in Europe.

"We must stop illegal departures and human trafficking," she said.

Meloni, 45, leads the Brothers of Italy party and has come to power at the head of a right-wing coalition.

"We do not intend in any way to question the right of asylum for those fleeing wars and persecutions," she told the lower house of parliament.

"All we want to do in relation to immigration is to stop the people traffickers from having the choice of deciding who enters Italy," she added.

Italy the focal point of the European immigration crisis

Due to geography, Italy has, for years, been a primary destination for illegal immigrants seeking to emigrate to Europe -- the Italian peninsula, and the adjacent island of Sicily, is the closest mainland Europe gets to the shores of North Africa.

More than 77,000 illegal immigrants have made the highly dangerous crossing to Italy this year, putting enormous pressure on local communities -- to say nothing of the fact that dozens, if not hundreds, are killed during the attempt every year.

The first three months of 2016 saw an increase in the number of migrants rescued at sea being brought to southern Italian ports. In April 2016, nearly 6,000 mostly sub-Saharan African migrants landed in Italy in four days. In June 2016, over 10,000 migrants were rescued in four days. Overall, in 2016, 1,81,100 migrants arrived in Italy by sea.

In April 2017, more than 8,000 migrants were rescued near Libya and brought to Italy in three days. From January to November 2017, approximately 1,14,600 migrants arrived in Italy by sea. Approximately 5,000 African migrants were rescued in waters off the coast of Libya between 18–20 May 2017.

Since 2013, Italy has taken in well over 7,00,000 migrants, mainly from sub-Saharan Africa.

Meloni says 'no more'

Meloni, for her part, has criticized Italy's approach towards illegal immigrants, calling for a zero-tolerance policy, and has said that she wants to blockade migrants from reaching Italian ports, and boost the birth rate of Italian nationals to ease the need for migrant labour.

She has linked immigration and crime, and refugee arrivals to human trafficking and prostitution. In August this year, she reposted a pixelized video on Twitter that shows a woman being raped by an asylum seeker.

The victim of the violence decried the publication of the video and said she was recognized by the video posted. After receiving backlash, Meloni defended herself by accusing other politicians of not having condemned the rape itself.

Meloni has blamed neo-colonialism for Africa's underdevelopment and the 2015 European migrant crisis, and she said she favours cooperation over what she termed France's neocolonialism.

She says she is opposed to the reception of non-Christian migrants, as well as to multiculturalism, and she has been accused of making xenophobic statements, as well as of Islamophobia.

However, her position on this issue is not unpopular in Italy -- During her maiden address to the parliament, she was greeted with a standing ovation and cries of "Giorgia, Giorgia!"

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

RECENT STORIES

Pakistan: Only 100 students in former PM Imran Khan's 'dream university' Al-Qadir Institute

Pakistan: Only 100 students in former PM Imran Khan's 'dream university' Al-Qadir Institute

G20: Amitabh Kant holds talks with Sherpas of Emerging Market Economies

G20: Amitabh Kant holds talks with Sherpas of Emerging Market Economies

Sidhu Moosewala killer Goldy Brar 'denies' being detained by US Police: Report

Sidhu Moosewala killer Goldy Brar 'denies' being detained by US Police: Report

Nelson Mandela Death Anniversary: Nelson Mandela's letters to his wife Winnie from prison are full...

Nelson Mandela Death Anniversary: Nelson Mandela's letters to his wife Winnie from prison are full...

Strange discovery in Egypt: Mummies found with solid gold tongues

Strange discovery in Egypt: Mummies found with solid gold tongues