Following a number of internet ‘memes’ making light of burning immigrants alive and drowning gypsy families surfacing on Facebook, a senior figure in an Italian regionalist party is being investigated for hate speech and has been ordered to apologise by fellow party member, the President of Veneto.
Andrea Della Puppa, secretary of the Lega Nord party in the north-eastern municipality of Maserada sul Piave posted the controversial image macros, or memes as they are known on his Facebook page but they have now been published by local media, reports theLocal.it. One of the images uses the ‘smoking duck’ meme, which jokes: “What do you throw to a drowning gypsy? His wife and children”.
Another meme shared is a three image macro featuring former immigration minister Cecile Kyenge and Adolph Hitler. Kyenge, who moved to Italy from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1983 is overlaid with text which translates as “immigrants need all our warmth”, the next frame shows a still of Hitler from the film Downfall shouting “so give it to them, for God’s sake!”. The final frame shows a 1941 photograph of a German soldier using a flamethrower to torch peasant hovels in Russia.
Lega Nord is one of a number of European regionalist movements who seek to break up their host nations into smaller blocs. Puppa and his colleagues in the party campaign to make Northern Italy a separate state from the south, which they consider slovenly, poor, and full of immigrants.
Lega Nord, like many other separatist groups, showed considerable interest in the recent Scottish independence referendum, and even sent senior party members to observe and learn campaigning strategy from the Scots. The move brought some media attention to Lega Nord as they had to write three separate press releases on the visit, mistaking Edinburgh for Hamburg and then Brussels.