‘Why don’t you go to your Iraqi caliphate?’: Anti-migrant message appears on Italian church

© Antonio Parrinello
A stark anti-migrant message has appeared on a church in the Italian town of Gorino Ferrarese, which has been in the headlines lately over the rejection of 12 refugees.

“If we are infidels in your opinion, why don’t you go to your Iraqi caliphate with the holy Caliph El Baghdadi, who lives without letting weapons out of his hands and violently kills those who are not Sunni?” the message read.

The Italian La Stampa newspaper reported that it was the local priest of over 25 years, Don Paolo Paccagnella of the parish of the Church of Our Lady of Mercy, who posted the sign.

The area’s mayor, Diego Viviani, expressed deep concern over the news, saying, “I'm really shocked, I knew nothing about it. I was alerted last night of the presence of this sign.”

He added that he will meet the priest and urge him to remove the sign, and will also demand that he show a different attitude which will “transmit the spirit of hospitality, respect for other people’s beliefs and human fellowship.”

The news comes a week after a crowd of residents erected barricades to block a bus carrying 12 female refugees, set to be hosted in the town.

About 150 demonstrators put up barriers, also going on strike and refusing to send children to school. They held a barbecue along the barricades.

The response of the local authorities was scathing. “This is not Italy. What happened does not make Italy proud,” Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said, as quoted by the International Business Times.

Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi also condemned the actions, saying “Goro and Gorino, perhaps there could have been better communication from the state, but the Italy I know walks the extra mile to accommodate 11 women,” he wrote on Twitter [initial reports stated there were 11 women, not 12].

However, a number of right-wing politicians and activists expressed solidarity with the protesters. Matteo Salvini, the leader of the far-right Northern League party, wrote on his Twitter page, "I'm with Gorino's citizens.” Local representatives of the Northern League also introduced the hashtag #stopinvasion (#stopinvasione in Italian).

A post from one of the anti-migrant activists read, "Good news from Gorino. The asylum seekers won't come here anymore. People from Gorino are not racist."

Italy’s government has been outspoken regarding the situation with refugees, voicing its support of welcoming the migrants.

A few days ago, Italian premier Renzi criticized the plan of some EU countries to shut the borders to prevent the inflow of migrants who mostly arrive in Italy first via the Mediterranean.

“If you [EU countries] build a wall, forget about Italian money,” he said, adding that if asylum seekers “don't go there [into other EU countries], the money won't go there either.”

Over 150,000 refugees arrived by sea this year, with a record 27,000 in October alone, according to data from the UN’s refugee agency.

Italy currently wants the EU to approve an extra €3.9 billion (US$4.25 billion) to deal with the crisis next year.

RT has talked to the geopolitical analyst for Limes-online, Fabrizio Maronta, who said that the EU had largely abandoned Italy in terms of handling refugees and migrants.

“We are left alone in terms of the border sharing of the people that we’re getting. Angela Merkel has been paying a very heavy political price for opening up ports to the refugees. If we keep on getting refugees in Italy, and other European countries don’t allow us to relocate them in the other parts of the EU, we’ll end up being another campsite for refugees,” Maronta said.