Monday, December 21, 2009

Have Yourself A Racist Little Christmas

The Italian town of Coccaglio has come up with a unique way of celebrating the season - a police-led round-up of illegal immigrants living within their village in a campaign of house-to-house searches that has been dubbed "Operation White Christmas" since it's scheduled to run through December 25th.

The campaign is the brainchild of Coccaglio's town council, which is dominated by members of Italy's Northern League. In their story, The Guardian defines the Northern League as "conservative", though critics have also branded them as being racist and anti-immigrant. But the Northern League is also part of the governing coalition of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi who have endorsed the campaign in Coccaglio, even though The Vatican has called it "sad and distressing" and other local residents say it makes a mockery of the spirit of the inclusive message of the Christmas season.

Under the Berlusconi regime, immigrants - the ones who don't look Italian at least - have become the scapegoat for many of Italy's social ills. In the past decade the number of immigrants living in Coccaglio has increased ten-fold, many of the newly-arrived residents are from China, Africa and the Middle East. Town officials defend their anti-immigrant campaign, going so far as to say that sending the police around is more polite than the previous policy of just mailing a letter to people suspected of violating immigration laws.
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