Is Italy going fascist?

ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images Given the country’s history, Italy’s attempts to curb crime have gotten disturbing in recent days. As if the country’s scapegoating of immigrants wasn’t enough, now hear this: An Italian mayor has banned group gatherings in certain areas. Under the edict, passed in the mid-sized northern city of Novara, gatherings of more than ...

593532_080804_Italy5.jpg
593532_080804_Italy5.jpg

ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images

Given the country's history, Italy's attempts to curb crime have gotten disturbing in recent days. As if the country's scapegoating of immigrants wasn't enough, now hear this: An Italian mayor has banned group gatherings in certain areas.

Under the edict, passed in the mid-sized northern city of Novara, gatherings of more than two people would be prohibited in public parks and gardens. Mayor Massimo Giordano claims that the policy will help cut down on noise and vandalism, but his opponents say it smacks of fascism. The parallels are certainly there: Mussolini prohibited gatherings of five or more people in the 1920s, as part of his creation of an Italian police state. Sure, Navaro's 350-euro fine hardly rivals Il Duce's punishments, but the point is pretty clear: There are "better ways to tackle the city's problems," as opposition councilor Sara Paladini puts it, that don't require such heavy-handedness.

ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images

Given the country’s history, Italy’s attempts to curb crime have gotten disturbing in recent days. As if the country’s scapegoating of immigrants wasn’t enough, now hear this: An Italian mayor has banned group gatherings in certain areas.

Under the edict, passed in the mid-sized northern city of Novara, gatherings of more than two people would be prohibited in public parks and gardens. Mayor Massimo Giordano claims that the policy will help cut down on noise and vandalism, but his opponents say it smacks of fascism. The parallels are certainly there: Mussolini prohibited gatherings of five or more people in the 1920s, as part of his creation of an Italian police state. Sure, Navaro’s 350-euro fine hardly rivals Il Duce’s punishments, but the point is pretty clear: There are “better ways to tackle the city’s problems,” as opposition councilor Sara Paladini puts it, that don’t require such heavy-handedness.

Moves like Giordano’s seem to fit a worrisome trend in Italy. Just today, the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi ordered troops to begin patrolling Italy’s streets in an effort to combat crime in major cities. While the 2,500 troops won’t have powers of arrest, their presence is still pretty disconcerting (especially for tourists, some of whom have already asked if Italy is in the throes of civil war).

And it’s hard to imagine the policy will truly increase security. It seems more like a poor smokescreen for ridding the streets of unwanted immigrants, who have already been subject to other discriminatory policies in Italy as of late. Berlusconi should get tougher on the country’s real problems and real criminals (like the Mafia) and stop putting the blame on a few incidences of pickpocketing. Or la bella vita could be in jeopardy.

Tag: Europe

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