Luigi Carozzi is the Mayor of the northern Italian town of Pontida, a heartland of the far-right League party. He’s pushing for Pontida to adopt a new emblem — one that sends a very clear message about Italy’s heritage.
The emblem in question is the Christian cross. “This is our symbol. It belongs to us and I’m proud of it” says Carozzi.
Christian symbols are having something of a comeback in Italy. And it’s not due to a religious awakening, but because of a policy being proposed by the governing far-right League Party.
Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini has proposed a new law that requires Crucifixes to be displayed in all public buildings, or face a fine. The proposal is unlikely to pass into law, but Salvini supporters including members of the League Party love the idea.
At a League party club in Milian, League supporter Adriana says she backs the bill and sees it as part of the wider campaign to assert Italian identity in the face of immigration: “I respect other people, but when they come here they have to respect me. If they don’t like my country they can go back home” she told VICE news.
However, support for the bill is seriously lacking in the Catholic Church, which opposes the law. But the Church’s official position hasn’t stopped the League party from doubling its support in 2018 among those who attend church regularly.
This has put pro-migrant clergy in a tough spot. Father Massimo Biancalani, who houses more than one hundred refugees in his church in Pistoia, has been personally attacked by Salvini on Twitter for his pro-migrant stance. Biancalani says the League is using Christian symbols as “support for their ideology. What’s even worse is that these ideas are xenophobic and inhuman.”
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