3 December 2017

Mario Borghezio – controversial politician

Lega Nord MEP renowned for extremist views

Mario Borghezio is a controversial figure in Italian politics
Mario Borghezio is a controversial
figure in Italian politics
Mario Borghezio, one of Italy’s most controversial political figures whose extreme right-wing views have repeatedly landed him in trouble, was born on this day in 1947 in Turin.

Borghezio is a member of Lega Nord, the party led by Umberto Bossi that was set up originally to campaign for Italy to be broken up so that the wealthy north of the country would sever its political and economic ties with the poorer south.

He has been a Member of the European Parliament since 1999 and has served on several committees, including Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and the Committee on Petitions.

He was even undersecretary to the Ministry of Justice from 1994-95.

Yet he had regularly espoused extremist and racist views, to the extent that even the right-wing British party UKIP, with whom he developed strong links, moved to distance themselves from him over one racist outburst.

It was at their behest that he was expelled from the European Parliament’s Europe of Freedom and Democracy group after making racist remarks about Cecile Kyenge, Italy’s first black cabinet minister, whom he said was more suited to being a housekeeper and claimed would impose “African tribal conditions” in Italy.

Borghezio's outspoken views have landed him in trouble during his career
Borghezio's outspoken views have landed him
in trouble during his career
The comments eventually saw Borghezio appear before a tribunal in Milan earlier this year, which fined him 1,000 euros and ordered him to pay Ms Kyenge, an eye surgeon originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo but resident in Italy for 30 years, a further €50,000 in damages.

It was not the first time Borghezio’s outspoken views had landed him in trouble.  In fact, he has a charge sheet stretching back to 1993, when he was ordered to pay a 750,000 lire fine for violence against a minor when he apprehended an 12-year-old unlicensed Moroccan street seller and forcibly restrained him while waiting for the police.

Subsquently, he was sentenced to two months and 20 days in prison in 2005 for setting fire to the pallets on which some migrants were sleeping in Turin, although this was commuted to a €3,040 fine.

In 2007 he was arrested by Belgian police for participating in protest against what he claimed was the "Islamisation of Europe", while in 2011 he was accused of promoting racial hatred when he criticised those who brought the Bosnian war criminal Ratko Mladic to justice for denying him the opportunity “to halt the advance of Islam into Europe” through his genocide of Muslim men.

Later in the same year, he was suspended, albeit only temporarily, by his party, Lega Nord, for praising some of the ideas in the manifesto of Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian anti-Islam extremist who a week earlier had killed eight people in a car bomb attack in Oslo before slaying 69 members of the Norwegian Labour Party’s youth division in a gun rampage at a summer camp two hours later.

Borghezio remains a member of Lega Nord and an MEP.

Turin is famous for its arcaded streets
Turin is famous for its arcaded streets
Travel tip:

Turin, the one-time capital of Italy, is best known for its royal palaces but tends to be overshadowed by other cities such as Rome, Florence, Milan and Venice when it comes to attracting tourists.  Yet there is much to like about a stay in Turin, from its many historic cafés to 12 miles of arcaded streets and some of the finest restaurants in Piedmont, yet because visitors do not flock to Turin in such large numbers prices tend to be a little lower than in Rome and Florence and Venice.

Turin's Piazza San Carlo
Turin's Piazza San Carlo
Travel tip:

To enjoy Turin’s historic cafés, head for Via Po, Turin’s famous promenade linking Piazza Vittorio Veneto with Piazza Castello, where it is impossible to walk more than a few metres without coming to a café, or a pasticceria, or nearby Piazza San Carlo, one of the city’s main squares. Inside, it is still possible to imagine the revolutionary atmosphere that swept through the haunts of writers and artists in the 19th century. Philosophers and writers such as Friedrich Nietzsche and Alexandre Dumas, the composers Puccini and Rossini, the politician Cavour and the poet Cesare Pavese all discussed the affairs of the day in these famous coffee houses.

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