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SPIEGEL ONLINE

11/24/2008 05:14 PM

Tit for Tat

Fatwa Issued Against Italian Politician

A far right Italian politician -- nicknamed "The Sheriff" -- has reportedly been slapped with a fatwa in response to his anti-Islam, and anti-immigrant, rhetoric. But it may only encourage him.

He likes to express controversial opinions, like the notion that police should "ethnically cleanse" homosexuals or that immigrants in public parks should be "dressed up like rabbits" and used for target practice. But now Giancarlo Gentilini, the deputy mayor of the northeastern Italian city of Treviso, has reportedly had a fatwa declared against him.

"I defend my culture, my religion and civilization without any fear, and so it is natural that I will make some enemies," Gentilini, who belongs to the anti-immigrant, far-right Northern League party, told the Italian news agency ANSA Friday.

A anti-immigration poster for the Northern League in Italy reads: "Now they live on reservations. Think about it."
REUTERS

A anti-immigration poster for the Northern League in Italy reads: "Now they live on reservations. Think about it."

Gentilini's name can be found on a list of men to be killed on an Islamic Web site based in Lebanon, according to ilpadano.com, a news site with ties to the Northern League. The site's name is related to the term "Padania," which the party uses to denote northern Italy.

According to ilpadano.com, the fatwa was issued in response to Gentilini's "blaspheming" Islam. Police consider the reports credible, according to ANSA, which adds that the fatwa was issued several months ago.

Gentilini -- who served as mayor of Treviso for two terms before taking his current job -- has been no stranger to controversy. "I want to see a revolution against those that want to open mosques and Islamic centers," he told a Northern League gathering in Venice in September 2008. "This also includes the members of the church hierarchy here who say that we should leave them alone to pray. No, let them go pray in the desert. I'll open a factory to give them the carpets they need to pray on in the desert."

He has also advocated removing benches from public parks to keep immigrants from using them, saying "we should dress them up as rabbits and go bang, bang, bang with a rifle."

He even launched a crusade last summer against non-local dogs in Treviso, according to ANSA. "We don't want foreign breeds here," he said.

In response to the alleged fatwa, Gentilini's security detail has been augmented. His outspoken views have forced the deputy mayor -- who claims to be fearless and relishes his nickname "The Sheriff" -- to live under police protection for five years.

jtw

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