The government of Milan has announced it will be clearing an area long squatted by illegal African migrants – in order to transform the site into a new mosque and Islamic centre.

The building, which is located along the Via Esterle in the north-east of the city, has been occupied illegally for years, with local residents complaining to the government about issues of crime but receiving few answers from the government.

Now, according to populist League (Lega) city councillor Silvia Sardone, the government of Milan mayor Beppe Sala is looking to clear out the squatters in order to build a new mosque, the newspaper Il Giornale reports.

“As can be seen from the answer given to me by deputy mayor Scavuzzo, the municipality is in no hurry to evict the former public toilets in Via Esterle illegally occupied by dozens of illegal African immigrants for the past six years,” Sardone said.

“It will do so only to make room for the House of Muslim Culture, which has been awarded those spaces to build a large mosque. The Muslims ask and the municipality executes,” she said, adding that “for the left Italians count less than Muslim communities to whom everything is granted.”

Sardone has highlighted problems of illegal migrants occupying building in Milan for years, including a former school in 2021 that became a den of crime and drugs.

“Unfortunately, these are the results of [the Italian Democratic Party’s] unrestrained reception policies: undocumented stragglers, ghosts in the Italian State, who commit repeated crimes while institutions remain silent,” Sardone said, publishing a video of the illegally occupied area on social media.

Sardone was also threatened in 2020 after opposing the construction of a temporary mosque in the city, claiming to have received a message that stated: “We foreigners will come into your house and rape you.”

“It will not be these threats of rape or death that will stop me from denouncing the [Democratic Party’s] submission to certain Islamic communities and the risks to the city,” Sardone said in response to the threats.

Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)