Archive | Italy

The Pope Says Yes to Palestine: Embassy Opens in Vatican

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On Saturday Palestine will open its first embassy in the Vatican, a diplomatically significant development in the midst of ongoing threats by President-elect Donald Trump to illegally move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and an international peace conference on Israel and Palestine which begins on Sunday in Paris.

Palestine’s ambassador to the Vatican, Issa Kassissieh, said the embassy was “a significant achievement for the Palestinian people,” adding that Argentine-born Pope Francis had made an important “moral, legal and political stand through recognizing the state of Palestine along the pre-1967 borders.”

Palestine has formal diplomatic missions to over 90 countries and has had official diplomatic relations with the Vatican since 2000.

Palestinian Authority President Abbas will also press the Pope about his concerns regarding U.S. threats to move their embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem, a move which would not only break international law but threaten to entirely scuttle Palestinian Authority hopes for a two-state settlement.

Palestinian Minister of Foreign Affairs Riyad al-Maliki said Abbas is “hoping that the Pope will participate in sending a strong message” to Trump about the dangers of the proposed move.

Trump’s pick for U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman a Zionist extremist who has said Jewish supporters of Palestine are worse than Nazi concentration camp guards– has publicly said that the U.S. embassy will move to Jerusalem.

Saturday’s inauguration comes as over 70 countries gather in Paris on Sunday for the opening of the first major international peace talks on Israel-Palestine since 2014, when U.S. sponsored negotiations ended in the face of the Israeli government’s continued construction of illegal settlements.

Abbas told a French paper earlier this week that the Paris talks “may be the last chance for implementing” the two-state solution mapped out in 1967 U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 and the 1993 Olso accords.

The Paris talks begin just weeks after a historic U.N. Security Council vote which unanimously condemned Israel’s flagrant violation of international law in ongoing settlement construction on Palestinian territory.

Despite official hopes that the talks might revive the two-state solution- which would see a contiguous Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital alongside Israel’s 1967 borders- many Palestinians have declared it long dead, given Israel’s continual refusal to abide by international law and multiple previous peace deals.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, Italy0 Comments

Italian Cambridge PhD student suffered ‘inhuman, animal-like’ violence before his death in Egypt

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Italy demands investigation after autopsy reveals doctoral student was tortured for days and his neck broken before his battered corpse was found near a highway.

Phd student Giulio Regeni is believed dead

Phd student Giulio Regeni is believed dead
Shared workspace is an exciting – and growing – way of doing business. Find out more.

By Andrea Vogt, Bologna

An Italian Cambridge University PhD student killed in Cairo was tortured for several days before dying from a broken neck, according to a post-mortem.

Rome prosecutors have opened a murder investigation into the death of Giulio Regeni, whose battered corpse was found near a highway outside the Egyptian capital nine days after he was reported missing.

As new, disturbing details of Mr Regeni’s last days in Egypt emerge, some of the researcher’s former colleagues are asking the British government to join Italy’s demand for an independent investigation

A parliamentary petition requesting a formal statement from the British government has been drafted and will circulate in coming days, said Neil Pyper, Associate Head of the School of Strategy and Leadership at Coventry University.

Giulio Regeni was conducting PhD fieldwork in Cairo

Giulio Regeni was conducting PhD fieldwork in Cairo

“Giulio Regeni’s murder highlights the extra judicial threats still faced in parts of the world, which are a barrier to potentially important research,” Mr Pyper told the Telegraph. “The way to protect our researchers and students is for universities and governments to robustly demand that incidents are investigated and those responsible held to account.”

“Giulio Regeni’s murder highlights the extra judicial threats still faced in parts of the world, which are a barrier to potentially important research”
Neil Pyper

Mr Regeni’s parents arrived in Rome on Saturday with their son’s body, which underwent a second autopsy on Saturday in Rome following the one performed in Cairo after his body was reported discovered Feb. 3 along a motorway on the outskirts of the Egyptian capital. According to the Italian news agency ANSA, coroners are still trying to establish whether the fatal neck injury was due to a severe blow or contortion.

Italy’s ambassador in Cairo said he was devastated by the condition of Mr Regeni’s body, which had more than two dozen broken bones, as well as bruises and burn marks, according to Italian media reports.

Members of the Egyptian police special forces patrol streets in al-Haram neighbourhood in the southern Cairo Giza district

Members of the Egyptian police special forces patrol streets in al-Haram neighbourhood in the southern Cairo Giza district   Photo: AFP

“There is no doubt that the young man was heavily beaten and tortured,” Ambassador Maurizio Massari told the Corriere della Sera.

After reviewing autopsy results, Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said Mr Regeni had suffered “something inhuman . . . an unacceptable violence.”

A funeral is planned for early next week in the 28-year-old’s native Italian region of Friuli. He had been living in Cairo to do research as a candidate for a Cambridge University doctorate when he disappeared on Jan. 25, the anniversary of Egypt’s 2011 uprising, a day when security forces were heavily patrolling the streets and squares. He had also been attending trade union meetings and had published at least one article in the Italian leftist newspaper Il Manifesto under a pseudonym.

“It happened to Giulio, but it could have been me or my friends Luca or Roberto, who have been to Egypt frequently for the same reasons”
Alessandro Columbu.

“It happened to Giulio, but it could have been me or my friends Luca or Roberto, who have been to Egypt frequently for the same reasons, or anyone really of the so many of us who are passionate about the Arabic language, the Middle East and Islam,” said Alessandro Columbu, an Italian doctoral student who teaches Arabic at the University of Edinburgh.

Mr Columbu, who was classmates and flatmates with Mr Regeni in Damascus, told the Telegraph he is concerned there could be a cover up of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Regeni’s death, especially given Italy’s recent embrace of Egypt as an economic partner and ally in the fight against terrorism.

Mourners attend a candlelight vigil for Giulio Regeni, in front of the Italian embassy in Cairo, Egypt

Mourners attend a candlelight vigil for Giulio Regeni, in front of the Italian embassy in Cairo, Egypt  Photo: AP Photo/Amr Nabil

“Egypt and Italy are friends, and this terrible story exposes a double standard in western European foreign policy: He was abducted by security forces in central Cairo and tortured to death. Unfortunately it takes a white, European to die to expose something that is happening to Egyptians all the time.”

A team of Italian police investigators has been dispatched to Cairo to gather additional information about Mr Regeni’s mobile phone, SIM card and the CCTV images from the area where he was last seen alive.

Fimuicello's Mayor Ennio Scridel delivers a speech during a candlelit procession to honour the memory of  Giulio Regeni in his hometown of Fiumicello, Italy

Fimuicello’s Mayor Ennio Scridel delivers a speech during a candlelit procession to honour the memory of Giulio Regeni in his hometown of Fiumicello, Italy  Photo: AP Photo/Paolo Giovannini

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Telling it like it is: Woman shouts ‘it’s you who created Daesh!’ to Kerry at press conference in Italy

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© Nicholas Kamm / Reuters
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) speaks next to Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni during a news conference following a ministerial meeting of the so-called “anti-Islamic State coalition” in Rome, Italy, February 2, 2016.

US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Italy was disrupted by a cry of protest at his joint press conference with Italian foreign minister Paolo Gentiloni, when a woman in the audience shouted, “it’s you who created Daesh!”

The press conference was coming to an end, when the woman stood up from the public, her head covered up by a black veil.

“It’s you who created Daesh!” she shouted at the two ministers, using another name for the terror group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL),reported the Italian state-owned television channel RAI.

The woman was dragged away from the conference by the Carabinieri.

After meeting with Gentiloni, Kerry said he was convinced that the US-led international coalition would “crush ISIS” eventually. His Italian counterpart expressed much more caution.

“There have been steps forward on the ground with respect to the Paris summit. But no triumphalism is warranted, we must continue the armed effort in Iraq,” Gentiloni said.

He added that in the fight against ISIS “important progress has been made,” although “we are faced with a very resilient organization and therefore we must not underestimate it.”

The protester in Italy is not the first to accuse Washington of midwifing the rise of IS. One former US Marine has blamed the self-proclaimed caliphate on the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

“I knew what I was seeing was wrong, I knew it was immoral, I knew it was unjust, I knew it was illegal,” Vincent Emanuele told RT in December 2015,” and “I knew that we would pay severe consequences in the form of the blowback as we are seeing with groups like ISIS.”

In 2012, the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) warned the government that “there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in eastern Syria… and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime.”

The Obama administration made a “willful decision” to ignore the warning, former DIA Director Lieutenant General Michael Flynn told Al Jazeera in August of last year.

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Portuguese Court Demands CIA Agent Extradition to Italy for Rendition Crime

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Sputnik

A Portuguese court of appeals has ordered the extradition of a former CIA officer who was convicted in absentia for her alleged role in the rendition of a suspected terrorist.

Sabrina De Sousa could face four years in jail.

The dual American and Portuguese citizen traveled to Lisbon in April with her husband. When she attempted to fly to the Indian state of Goa to visit her ailing mother in October, she set off a travel-alert indicating she was wanted in Italy. Authorities then arrested her and seized the dual citizen’s American and Portuguese passports.

De Sousa was charged in 2005 for her alleged role in the kidnapping of suspected terrorist and Egyptian cleric Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar. More than 20 other Americans including CIA officials were also convicted in the operation.

After Omar’s release, the cleric said he had been snatched off the streets of Milan after leaving his apartment on Feb. 17, 2003. He said he was thrown into a van, and flown to Egypt where he underwent torture including beatings and electrocution.

Judge Sergio Silocchi reads the sentence of the appeal trial on a CIA-led kidnapping of an Egyptian terror suspect, Muslim cleric Osama Moustafa Hassan Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, at the Milan’s court, Italy, Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010.

At the time, De Sousa was registered in Italy as a State Department official at the U.S. Consulate in Milan. However, she was actually a CIA officer.

She maintains that she was chaperoning her son’s ski trip the day Omar was taken. She also says the operation was approved and carried out by higher-ranking CIA officials, who had the backing of Italy’s intelligence community.

She admits she was a translator for the team that led the capture and coordinated with Italian authorities.

Following her charges, De Sousa sued the CIA and the Justice Department for not invoking diplomatic immunity on her behalf. Later in 2009, 23 Americans also were convicted by Italian courts in absentia. None has served prison terms.

During an interview Friday with the Washington Post, De Sousa said she plans to appeal the ruling to Portugal’s Supreme Court.

“I am really shocked,” De Sousa told the Post. “From what I understood, extradition was off the table because it was a trial in absentia. I was not served or told of the charges against me and had zero opportunity to defend myself adequately because the U.S. did not acknowledge the rendition took place and the evidence was classified. Italy also covered all pertinent evidence with ‘state secrets.’”

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Anti-Muslim hysteria: Map reveals extent of fascist revival across EU

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FAR-RIGHT parties are on the march across Europe as the unprecedented migrant crisis gripping the continent fuels a surge in support for nationalist movements.

Far-right parties have made significant gains across Europe this year

This shocking map shows how anti-immigration campaigners have enjoyed huge gains in this year’s elections, whilst thousands have taken to the streets to protest against the overwhelming influx of migrants and refugees.

From Greece to Germany and Switzerland to Sweden, far-right protestors and parties have stormed the mainstream of European politics as voters rebel against years of predominantly socialist rule.

In France Marine Le Pen’s controversial Front National came within a whisker of winning control over swathes of the country, whilst the traditionally liberal societies of Scandinavia turned their backs on moderates amid unprecedented migratory pressure.

As 2015 draws to a close, Express.co.uk has taken a look at the worrying shift towards the far-right and the inept responses of mainstream politicians which could see the continent once more gripped by fear and intolerance.

AUSTRIA 

Any mention of far-right politics carries dark historical connotations for the Austrians as the nation gave birth to Adolf Hitler.

But extremist politicians have benefited from a surge in support largely due to the ongoing migrant crisis. Austria has been overwhelmed by the flow of migrants in 2015, with hundreds of thousands of people arriving on its borders seeking passage to a better life in neighbouring Germany.

The far-right Freedom Party (FPO) has stepped into the chaotic political vacuum that has ensued, quietly but confidently positioning itself as a protector of Austria’s heritage and borders against the tide of refugees. In late September the party stormed to success in local elections, doubling its share of the vote to more than 30% and securing 18 seats in Upper Austria, second only to the ruling regional conservatives.

In early October the FPO continued its meteoric rise, giving the socialist mayor of Vienna a major scar, securing nearly a third of the vote in what is traditionally one of Europe’s most liberal capitals. They have also consistently performed well in national opinion polls this year, with most carried out since May showing the far-right party in the lead – some by as many as 10 points.

The next Austrian general election will take place by the end of 2018 and the mainstream parties are now facing a major battle to keep the far-right FPO out of power.

DENMARK 

The far-right Danish People’s Party (DF) has been so successful in recent elections that it now has the balance of power and could topple the Danish coalition government. The party finished second in June’s general election after securing 21% of the vote and 37 seats in the country’s 179-seat parliament.

Leader Kristian Thulesen Dahl eventually opted to form a ruling coalition with the conservatives, but has recently threatened to “topple” the government by pulling out if there is any attempt to soften its stance on immigration. The head of the deposed Social Democrats has called for a compromise over Denmark’s tough immigration laws, but the DF is so powerful that now seems extremely unlikely.

The party, founded in 1995, campaigns against mass migration and multiculturalism, with former leader Pia Kjærsgaard stating that she did “not want Denmark as a multiethnic, multicultural society”. In 2010 it proposed a complete ban on all immigrants from outside Europe, excluding refugees in need of shelter.

The rise of the far-right in Denmark mirrors a similar situation in other Scandinavian countries, which are sparsely populated and critics say are ill-suited to take in huge numbers of migrants from the Middle East.

FINLAND 

The Finns Party (PS) – known as the ‘True Finns’ – has enjoyed a meteoric rise similar to the Danish People’s Party (DP) and is now a major player in Finland’s coalition government. The nationalists became Finland’s second largest political party when they won 17.7% of the votes in April’s general election and entered into a pact with the ruling Conservatives.

Like the DP, the eurosceptic party espouses essentially left-wing economic policies but allied to a hardline stance on immigration. Its leadership publicly denounces racism and discrimination although comments by some of its MPs, including Teuvo Hakkarainen who used an offensive word to describe black people and mocked Islamic calls to prayer.

Founded in 1995 the PS has risen to prominence in recent years because of concerns about immigration. It made its breakthrough to become the third largest party in Finland 2011 – the same year an opinion poll revealed that 51% of its voters agreed with the statement “people of certain races are unsuited for life in a modern society”.

FRANCE 

The Front National (FN) party stunned Europe and the world when it stormed to victory in the first round of the French local elections earlier this month. Led by the charismatic Marine Le Pen, daughter of its founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, the far-right party tapped into concerns about high immigration and home-grown extremism in the aftermath of the bloody massacre in Paris.

It scooped an astonishing 28% of the national vote in the first round of the elections, polling first place in six of France’s 13 administrative regions and winning more than six million votes. The party was routed in the second round of voting, but only because Francois Hollande’s socialists dropped out of the running in two regions and urged their voters to back former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservatives instead.

Such a pact between the Labour and Tory parties in the UK would be unthinkable, and underlines the desperation of moderate French politicians who have been outflanked and out-thought by the rapid rise of the FN. Despite the result political commentators have said the momentum remains behind France’s far-right, and Ms Le Pen is expected to make a major push for the presidency next year.

GERMANY For decades Germany has prided itself on the almost complete non-existence of far-right politics in the country. But the recent refugee crisis, and Angela Merkel’s decision to throw open the country’s doors to unlimited numbers of migrants, has stoked tensions and fears that nationalist politics could make return.

Recent opinion polls suggest such concerns are not unfounded, with the right-wing Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party making huge gains off the bank of anti asylum-seeker statements. The party – whose name means Alternative for Germany – is campaigning under the slogan “Asylum requires borders – Red card for Merkel”. It scored 8% of the electorate in an opinion poll published this month, which marks a doubling in its support since September. At the same time Mrs Merkel’s Christian Democrats, who have pursued a policy of demonising and denouncing right-wing and populist parties, saw their support slip from 40% to 37%.

Elsewhere the openly far-right group Pegida held one of its biggest ever rallies in Dresden in October, with 20,000 people taking to the streets to protest against immigration. The movement’s attitudes towards immigrants have been repeatedly compared to those of the Nazis, and a speaker at the Dresden rally spoke of his regret that “the concentration camps are out of action”.

This year has also seen a sharp rise in the number of attacks against immigrant housing, according to German charities. The Amadeu Antonio Stiftung and PRO ASYL groups compiled statistics showing that there were 429 attacks on refugee shelters up to the end of October, including 93 arson attacks, compared with 153 attacks for all of 2014.

GREECE 

Greek politics has become a tale of two extremes in recent years as the country battles a crushing economic depression and an overwhelming influx of migrants crossing the Mediterranean from neighbouring Turkey.

Despite electing a radical socialist government Greeks have also voted in their droves for the openly fascist Golden Dawn party this year. The violent group was one of the biggest winners in the country’s September general election, called by president Alexis Tsipras so that voters could have their say on a controversial EU bailout package.

Instead the election served to underline the growing popularity of neo-fascists Golden Dawn, who polled third overall with more than 7% of the vote. After the result was announced its spokesman Ilias Kasidiaris, who sports a Swastika tattoo, triumphantly declared: ³Golden Dawn is a movement of power, it is not a protest movement any more.”

Greek prosecutors have accused Golden Dawn of being a criminal gang, not a political party, and most of its leaders stand accused of horrific crimes including murder, armed attacks, money laundering and people trafficking, which they deny.

Ordinary Greeks have been left feeling betrayed by other European countries over a series of suffocating bailout packages, which have stopped the country’s stricken economy from imploding but have also completely stifled any recovery. The country is also on the frontline of the current refugee crisis, with 7,000 migrants arriving on its shores every day. Golden Dawn, unsurprisingly, polled particularly well on the inundated islands of Lesbos and Kos and also picked up a large haul of votes in the Athens region.

With Greece’s economic problems and the migrant situation unlikely to end any time soon, there are fears that Golden Dawn could make a more serious play for power in the future.

HUNGARY 

Another nation feeling the extreme pressures of the migrant crisis, one in five Hungarians turned to an ultra far-right party in last year’s election. The central European state, which is governed by populist right-wing president Viktor Orban, has built a huge 110 mile long fence along its border with Serbia in a desperate bid to keep hundreds of thousands of German-bound migrants out.

But despite Mr Orban’s hardline stance against immigration, 20.7% of Hungarians voted for anti-semitic Jobbik in last April’s general election. A year later the party won its first by-election in the country, with Lajos Rig beating Mr Orban’s candidate despite sharing an article which accused the Jews of using gipsies as a “biological weapon” against native Hungarians.

The party’s leader, Gabor Vona, later said: ³The mood in Hungary is for a change in government, and with Jobbik, Hungary finally has the force to change the government.”

Jobbik has consistently gained on Mr Orban’s Fidesz party in the polls this year, and has scored as highly as 17% before dropping back to 15% in September. But the party has had a serious effect on the country’s politics – it was Jobbik which suggested constructing the razor wire fence later championed by Mr Orban, and he also followed their calls to deploy the army to the border to deter migrants.

Hungary has built a huge fence to keep out migrants
ITALY As in Greece, Italian voters are faced with economic hardship and a place on the Mediterranean frontline of the migrant crisis. Despite being ruled by the socialist government of Matteo Renzi, it is the far-right Northern League party which has made real strides in recent elections.

The nationalist party, whose candidates have made xenophobic comments towards Roma gypsies and immigrants, secured its best ever results in this summer’s regional elections. Standing on an anti-immigrant platform, the Northern League won the regions of Veneto – with a landslide 50% of the vote – and neighbouring Lombardy.

It also struck a humiliating blow against the ruling socialists by wooing 20% of the electorate in Tuscany, the left-wing heartland of Mr Renzi’s Democratic Party. The Northern League’s eccentric leader, Matteo Salvini, has previously said Roma camps to be razed, called the Euro a “crime against humanity” and even accused Pope Francis of betraying Christians by promoting dialogue with Muslims.

In Veneto, his party ordered officials to clear all refugee reception centres near tourist hotspots, claiming that the the sight of African migrants was having a “devastating effect” on local traders.

Mr Salvini has emerged as the self-proclaimed leader of the country’s political right, stepping into the void left by the downfall of former president Sylvio Berlusconi, and his party will be eyeing up more success when Italians next go to the polls by May 2018.

THE NETHERLANDS 

Opinion polls in Holland suggest that the country’s main far-right party, Party for Freedom (PVV) could be on track to storm to victory at the next general election. Support for the anti-immigration party has risen to record highs this year, with it opening up a cavernous 18 point lead on all its rivals.

On current predictions the eurosceptic group would win 37 seats in the Dutch parliament if there was an election tomorrow, securing around a quarter of the vote in a country known for being governed by coalition. Pollsters say that the party’s popularity is growing outside its traditional working class base, with the number of graduates willing to vote for it tripling in just a few months.

The PVV is run by controversial politician Geert Wilders, who has previously said that Europe should close its borders to Muslims and described the refugee crisis as an “Islamic invasion”. More recently he has supported Donald Trump over his similar proposed policy for the United States, saying he hopes he becomes the country’s next president.

Mr Wilders and his party have preyed on people’s fears over a potentially huge influx of migrants and have positioned themselves as champions of traditional Dutch society. Holland, which has a population of just 17 million, is braced to take in about 60,000 asylum seekers by the end of the year.

SWEDEN 

Another Scandinavian country seeing a huge surge in the popularity of the far-right, once more largely brought about by the European migrant crisis. Sparsely populated Sweden, home to just 9.5 million people, will take in a record 190,000 refugees from the Middle East this year alone.

Fears over how the predominantly Muslim migrants will integrate into society has seen traditionally liberal Swedes turn their backs on socialist politicians and instead embrace the anti-immigrant Swedish Democrats (SD).

The SD – which wants to close Sweden’s borders to immigrants and has neo-Nazi ties – has seen a surge in support with eight separate opinion polls this year placing it as the largest party in the country. Seven of those have put its support at over 25% – comfortably ahead of the ruling Social Democratic Party.

It is already the country¹s third-largest party, with 49 representatives in parliament, following success in last year’s general election and will be looking to make further gains when Swedes next head to the ballot box on 9 September, 2018.

SWITZERLAND

Even though Switzerland is neither part of the EU nor the Schengen free movement zone, concerns about the ongoing migrant crisis have played strongly on people’s minds. The small Alpine country, known for its chocolate, time pieces and secretive banks, lurched to the right in recent elections as centrist parties haemorrhaged support.

The ultra-conservative Swiss People’s Party (SVP), which has warned of “asylum chaos” in Europe and wants to impose strict immigration quotas, secured its best ever result in October’s election winning 29.4% of the vote. The party’s rise has been fuelled by anger over a number of Switzerland’s bilateral agreements with the EU, including its pledge to take in Syrian refugees as part of the wider quota system agreed by member states.

Swiss media have referred to the result as a “rechtsrutsch,” or a slide to the right and have warned it will isolate the country even further from the rest of Europe. The controversial party was embroiled in a race row in 2007 after it unveiled an apparently racist poster about foreign criminals.

The publicity campaign, designed to highlight the SVP’s proposed policy of deporting all foreign criminals, showed three white sheep kicking a black sheep over a border to the backdrop of a Swiss flag. More than a fifth of Switzerland’s population is foreign, with most having lived in the country for many years but not holding Swiss citizenship.

Posted in Europe, France, Germany, Greece, Italy0 Comments

Italy’s Lega Nord Party Urges Sanctions on Ankara, Riyadh for Funding Daesh

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Image result for Italy’s Lega Nord Party LOGO
By Svetlana Alexandrova

The European Union should impose sanctions on Turkey and Saudi Arabia for financing the Islamic State (IS or Daesh in Arabic) jihadist group, instead of extending its anti-Russia sanctions, the leader of Italy’s Eurosceptic Lega Nord party, Matteo Salvini, toldSputnik Wednesday.

A UN Security Council Resolution to counter the financing of terrorism, targeting in particular Daesh, an organization outlawed in a number of states including Russia, was adopted Thursday. The resolution specifies that Daesh derives its main source of income from smuggled oil and obliges all states to oppose this illicit oil trade in the strongest terms. Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin said that Turkish companies found to be involved in this illicit oil trade might be sanctioned by the UN Security Council.

“Europe needs to impose sanctions against Turkey and Saudi Arabia instead of extending sanctions against Russia,” Salvini said.

Salvini added that his party does not believe that the Islamic coalition against extremists that was announced by Saudi Arabia earlier this week “will serve its alleged goals because it is the state that supports terrorism.”

Daesh controls large swathes of land in oil-rich Syria, Iraq and Libya. Earlier this month, the Russian Defense Ministry presented evidence showing that Daesh has been smuggling oil across the porous Syria-Turkey border in large volumes.

Salvini is currently in Moscow and is set to meet on Friday with the head of Russia’s upper house of parliament’s International Committee, Alexei Pushkov, Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council Committee on International Affairs Andrey Klimov, as well as with the representatives of the United Russia Party.

Posted in Italy, Saudi Arabia, Turkey0 Comments

Italian Premier Renzi gets his facts and priorities wrong on I$raHell and the Palestinian struggle

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Matteo Renzi in Israel

Matteo Renzi, failing to ensure respect for international law is “futile and stupid”, not the boycott of Israel

Media release from BDS Italia:

During his visit to Israel, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi gave a speech to the Knesset in which he stressed the relationship and friendship between Italy and Israel, affirming that “Italy will always be in the front line against all forms of boycott, which are futile and stupid”.

Renzi’s statement demonstrates his utter lack of knowledge of the movement for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) launched in July 2005 by a broad coalition of Palestinian civil society as a necessary and moral response to the failure of international institutions to halt Israel’s continuing violations of international law.1

For decades and with complete impunity, Israel has carried out policies of occupation and colonisation, appropriating Palestinian land and resources, building settlements and the Apartheid Wall, approved laws that discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel and forced half of the Palestinian population to live as refugees or in exile.2 A year after the operation “Protective Edge”, Israel’s third military operation in five years bombarding the Gaza Strip, which caused the death of over 2,200 people, the vast majority civilians and a quarter of them children, Israel continues to prevent, through the illegal blockade it has imposed for eight years, the reconstruction of the 18,000 homes it damaged.3

BDS serves to break the status quo in which Israel continues to violate rights with impunity, thanks to the inaction of states and institutions, and businesses, including Italian firms, continue to profit from this illegal situation.4

Now more than ever, the BDS campaign in Italy must be intensified in order to end complicity of Italian institutions and companies.

In these 10 years, the BDS movement has grown steadily, garnering ever more consensus and successes. Among the endorsers of the campaign are trade unions, movements, churches, non-governmental organisations, artists and intellectuals, including Ken Loach, Naomi Klein, Roger Waters of Pink Floyd and South African Archbishop and Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu. Thanks to the work of civil society around the world, businesses, banks and pension funds have divested from the Israeli economy and complicit international companies and consumers refuse to buy Israeli products.5

The boycott is a recognised and time-honoured non-violent means to apply pressure and withdraw support from systems of injustice, just as was the case with the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. Now more than ever, the BDS campaign in Italy must be intensified in order to end complicity of Italian institutions and companies.

It is “futile and stupid” to continue to ignore the violations of Israel instead of taking concrete measures to ensure respect for human rights, international humanitarian law and UN resolutions, and support the Palestinian call for freedom, justice and equality.


BDS Italy
www.bdsitalia.org
bdsitalia@gmail.com

BDS Italia is a movement supporting boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel. It is comprised of associations and groups throughout Italy who endorse the 2005 call from Palestinian civil society and work to promote BDS campaigns and initiatives locally and nationally.


Notes

1. BDS

2. Dispossession and exile

3. Blockade of Gaza

4. Italian firms profiting from Israeli crime

5] Key successes of the BDS movement

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Upto 700 feared dead as migrant boat capsizes off Libyan coast

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A boat transporting migrants arrives in the port of Messina after a rescue operation at sea on April 18, 2015 in Sicily. ─ AFP
A boat transporting migrants arrives in the port of Messina after a rescue operation at sea on April 18, 2015 in Sicily. ─ AFP

ROME/PALERMO: As many as 700 people are feared dead after a boat carrying migrants capsized off the Libyan coast overnight, a United Nations official said on Sunday.

Antonino Irato, a senior official from the Italian border police told television station RaiNews24 that 28 people were rescued in the incident, and 24 bodies had been recovered, adding that the boat had capsized just off Libyan waters, south of the southern Italian island of Lampedusa.

If confirmed, the death toll would bring the total number of dead since the beginning of the year to more than 1,500.

The boat is believed to have capsized when the migrants shifted to one side of the overcrowded vessel as a merchant ship approached.

“The first details came from one of the survivors who spoke English and who said that at least 700 people, if not more, were on board. The boat capsized because people moved to one side when another vessel that they hoped would rescue them approached,” said Carlotta Sami, a spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee.

Italian officials said navy and coast guard vessels, as well as merchant ships in the area and a Maltese patrol boat, were involved in the search and rescue operation, which was being coordinated by the Italian coast guard in Rome.

The new deaths fuelled calls for a stronger response from Europe to the increasingly deadly decades-long migrant crisis playing out in the Mediterranean.

International aid groups and Italian authorities have criticised Europe’s so-called “Triton” border protection operation, which recently replaced a more comprehensive Italian search-and-rescue mission.

“A tragedy is unfolding in the Mediterranean, and if the EU and the world continue to close their eyes, it will be judged in the harshest terms as it was judged in the past when it closed its eyes to genocides when the comfortable did nothing,” Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat said.

“They are literally trying to find people alive among the dead floating in the water,” he added.

There was still no decision on where the survivors and the bodies that had been recovered would be taken.

Just last week, 400 people were presumed drowned when another boat capsized.

Know more: Nearly 400 migrants die in shipwreck off Libya, 150 rescued

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said Europe was witnessing “systematic slaughter in the Mediterranean”.

“How can we remain insensible when we’re witnessing entire populations dying at a time when modern means of communications allow us to be aware of everything?” Renzi said at a political event in Mantua.

On his way back to Rome, where he was expected to give a news conference later, Renzi spoke by telephone to French President Francois Hollande.

The leader of the anti-immigrant Northern League party, Matteo Salvini, who has made migration one of the centrepieces of his political agenda, called for a an immediate naval blockade of the coast of Libya.

The lawless state of Libya, following the toppling of former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, has left criminal gangs of migrant smugglers a free hand to send a stream of boats carrying desperate migrants from Africa and the Middle East.

Around 20,000 migrants have reached the Italian coast this year, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) estimates. That is fewer than in the first four months of last year, but the number of deaths has risen almost nine-fold.

In 2013, the previous government initiated the search-and-rescue operation “Mare Nostrum” or “Our Sea” after hundreds drowned in an incident off the coast of Lampedusa.

The operation was cancelled last year, because of the cost and because some politicians said it encouraged migrants to depart by raising their hopes of being rescued.

That made way for the European Union’s border control mission, Triton. However Triton, which has a much smaller budget and narrower remit, has been criticised by humanitarian groups and Italy as inadequate to tackle the scale of the problem.

Know more: Migrant crisis intensifies with arrests, deaths

On Saturday, Pope Francis joined Italy in pressing the European Union to do more to help the country cope with the soaring numbers of arrivals, which include more than 10,000 in the week ending Saturday.

Italy says it will continue rescuing migrants but demands that the EU increase assistance to shelter and rescue them.

Italy says the EU’s border control agency, Frontex, must take a greater role in coordinating rescue operations.

Frontex technically is a border patrol operation, not responsible for search and rescue efforts. Because most migrants want to reach family or other members of their community in northern Europe, Italian governments have pushed for those countries to do more, particularly by taking in the migrants while their requests for asylum or refugee status are examined.

The EU’s commissioner for migration, Dmitris Avramopoulos, says a new policy will be presented in May. He also has called for other EU members to provide more aid to Italy.

Posted in Italy0 Comments

Italy Takes Regional Anti-Mosque Law to Constitutional Court

NOVANEWS
Members of the Muslim community in Italy leave Rome
  • Members of the Muslim community in Italy leave Rome’s mosque after prayers

Following a series of protests across the country, Italy moved to block a regional law recently passed which was aimed at preventing the building of mosques.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi (center-left) declared on Friday that his government had gone to the Constitutional Court to examine the so-called “anti-mosque law” – a series of measures that were approved by local authorities (far-right) in the northern region of Lombardy at the end January.

The legislation possible breaches several constitutional rules of the country, such as freedom of religion, and could have over-stepped its ability to rule in state-religion matters, or given too much power to local mayors.

The law created various urban and political restrictions so that the building of mosques would be impossible. For instance, religious minorities that have not benefitted from any official recognition are now compelled to adapt their places of worship to local aesthetic canons, in addition to other bureaucratic obstacles.

Lombardy officials would also be required to convoke a public referendum before approving the building of any religious facilities in the region.

Islam is the only religion in the country that has not yet received official recognition. It is practiced by over a million Italian citizens and is the second biggest religion in the country according to a 2011 survey quoted by Russia Today.

The northern region of Lombardy, one of the wealthiest in the country as well an industrial heartland, has been ruled by the far-right Northern League allied with Italian Force. Matteo Salvini, leader of Northern League, responded to the government’s move by saying “Renzi and [Interior Minister] Alfano are the new Imams” on his Facebook page.

However, when the law was passed, surprisingly Renzi – who frequently comments on everyday political events on social networks – did not react. As for Alfano, one week before passing the law, he controversially conflated immigration and terrorism during a speech to legislators.

European countries are facing a wave of Islamophobia recently, and more and more frequently governments, especially at the local level, are granting the requests of part of their electorate by approving anti-Islam laws or measures. In 2009, Switzerland was the first country to prohibit building minarets – a measure later approved by referendum. More recently, the right-wing government of Austria initiated legislation in February that forbids the foreign funding of Muslim organizations in its territory.

Posted in Italy0 Comments

ONE MILLION REFUGEES SET TO FLOOD INTO ITALY

NOVANEWS

Upwards of one million refugees could reach Europe from Libya amid collapsing security in the northern African country, the European Union’s border agency chief has warned. 

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Frontex executive director Fabrice Leggeri said he expects asylum seekers’ crossings to skyrocket in 2015 and urged EU governments to ready themselves to “face a way more difficult situation than last year”.

“We are told there are between 500,000 and one million migrants ready to leave from Libya,” Leggeri told Italian news agency Ansa. “We have to be aware of the risks”.

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In 2014, more than 173,000 asylum-seekers were rescued in the Mediterranean after they set off from African shores on overcrowded, run-down boats in a bit to reach the Italian coast. At least 3,500 others died at sea.

Numbers have increased with human smugglers exploiting the power vacuum caused by Zio-NATO war the that has engulfed Libya since the overthrow of late Leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

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With the country now locked in a three-way power-struggle pitting government troops against different Islamist groups including Zio-Wahhabi Islamic State (Isis) affiliates, fears have been raised that extremists could mingle with the hundreds of migrants crossing by boat every week or drastically increase the number of crossings to strain EU border forces.

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“We have evidence that migrants have been forcibly boarded on vessels at gunpoint,” Leggeri said. “I do not have elements to say they were terrorists but there are worries among states.”

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Leggeri called for the EU to provide more funds and resources to address the migration crisis. The call came as a large Italian search and rescue operation – Mare Nostrum – was wound down in December due to high costs and internal political opposition. It was replaced by an EU operation run by Frontex and named Triton, the scope and size of which however are considerably smaller.

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Earlier this week, EU officials aired the idea of launching an EU border guard operation. “We have to think much more about a common system of European border guards,” Matthias Ruete, head of the EU’s migration and home affairs office, said.

The Union migration chief Dimitris Avramopoulos added: “Frontex is not a European border guard system. If we want one, we would have to create one.”

Posted in Europe, Italy0 Comments

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