Uncontrolled immigration “leads to chaos, racism, and social conflict,” said Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini in an interview on Friday, whereas the “only antidote to racism” is regulated migration.
Orderly immigration “guarantees the rights of both Italians and immigrants,” Salvini told La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana in an extensive interview, unlike the unchecked immigration of the past few years, which has resulted in “chaos.”
“The only antidote to racism — and the Italians are anything but racist — is to return to a respect for laws and regulations, and monitor who enters and who leaves this country,” he said.
Mr. Salvini said he is also working to fulfill his promise of repatriating migrants who have been denied asylum, but struggles with resistance from some of their countries of origin.
“We need to work hard and do what others have not done in the past. The situation is that at present we only have agreements with four countries, and only one of them works well, Tunisia, with whom there are two charter flights a week,” he said.
There are also “absurd situations” with countries like Bangladesh and Pakistan, “from which thousands of irregulars arrive,” he said. And yet they only allow repatriation to be scheduled on an individual basis, one by one. “That is, we should put them on the scheduled flights one at a time, each with two police escorts. It’s insane.”
“So you have to work, travel, talk with these countries, renew agreements, make new ones. I’ve already been in Libya and Egypt, and now I’m planning to go to Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria,” he said.
Mr. Salvini was asked how he explains the “unprecedented hostility” toward him from the Catholic establishment in Italy, notably the bishops conference and Catholic journals such as Famiglia Cristiana and Avvenire, who accuse the minister of xenophobia and racism.
“Honestly I cannot explain it,” Salvini said. “So much virulence leaves me truly perplexed,” adding that he does not put much stock in theories that attacks are coming from a part of the Catholic world that has built a “business” on immigration.
“There is a fundamental underlying prejudice that I cannot explain,” Salvini said. “The beautiful thing is that after the cover of Famiglia Cristiana and the attacks from Avvenire I received a flood of letters from men and women of the Church who include their names, surnames, and addresses, encouraging me to go on as I have been.”
“I have even gotten letters from priests and bishops,” he said, although many begged him to maintain their confidentiality to avoid problems. “This really surprised me. In politics, I’m used to it, but in a world of openness, dialogue, sobriety and its own way of being, I did not expect there to be such a climate.”
Regarding the threats posed by radical Islam, Salvini said that beyond the fight against Islamic terrorism, “the defense of our values and our identity requires regulation of the Islamic presence and Islamic organizations in Italy.”
“It is evident that the fanatical interpretation of the Koran is incompatible with our values of freedom and with Christian values,” he said. “As a father, I have personally encountered school situations of mothers who are prevented from learning Italian or working; of girls who are prevented from doing gymnastics with boys or going to birthday parties with boys, and so on.”
“Here there is no intention to integrate, to dialogue,” he said. “Unfortunately, a certain type of Islam ghettoizes itself and is incompatible with our society. And it amazes me that some within the Catholic hierarchy act as if they do not understand.”
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