Say No to Mr. Maroni at the LSE
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We have recently learnt that the London School of Economics will hold an event organized by the LSE SU Italian Society in which the Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni will give a talk on Organised Crime, Terrorism and Immigration Governance.
Firstly, the title of this event is misleading, as it associates immigration to organized crime or terrorism, therefore such link should be forcefully and outwardly rejected especially in an academic institution.
Secondly, the very invitation offered to the Italian Interior Minister should be deemed unacceptable. Roberto Maroni is a key leader of an anti-immigrant party ("Lega Nord" [Northern League]), which is well known for its "openly xenophobic" views. The Northern League has frequently made headlines across Europe for their intolerant views on Islam and immigration. For example they have allowed pigs to graze over sites where mosques were earmarked to be built in order to make them unholy. As well as this recently, the Northern League was accused of racism after details emerged about a local scheme to rid a town of illegal immigrants that was nicknamed "White Christmas".
Thirdly, Roberto Maroni as Interior Minister proposed the fingerprinting of Roma community living in camps as part of its crackdown on street crime. This measure to create a Roma Census can be directly compared to Nazi-Fascism racial discrimination and persecution and it had been criticised by human rights organisations, Unicef, the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and the Romanian Government, on the grounds that it had fueled anti-immigrant sentiments in Italy and encouraged vigilante attacks on innocent people.
Fourthly, Mr. Maroni authorized the creation of vigilante groups to patrol immigration in Italy and promoted Law 94/2009, which makes undocumented entry and stay in Italy a criminal offense. In addition, according to the same law, all public officials (included teachers and GPs) are required to report undocumented migrants who seek medical attention or other services such as education.
Fifthly, in August 2008 Mr. Maroni as the Interior Minister of the Berlusconi's Government signed an agreement with Gaddafi’s regime in order to turn back migrants and asylum seekers to their point of departure. Many of them were jailed in detention camps in Libya where they were tortured and treated with no respect and very clear violations of basic human rights; more details: Human Rights Watch Report
Finally, since May 2009 Italy intercepts boats with migrants on the high seas and pushes them back to Libya with no refugees screening. This policy constitutes a blatant violation of a longstanding international legal principle of non-refoulement that prohibits the forced return of people to places where their lives or freedom would be threatened or where they would face a risk of torture or inhuman and degrading treatment; details can be found here: Commission questions Italy's immigration policy.
We are extremely concerned about this event and the fact that LSE continues to invite controversial guests to speak on campus (from Saif Gaddafi to Thilo Sarrazin) which in turn compromises the integrity of the this fine institution. Thus, we urge the retraction of the invitation offered to Mr. Maroni, and invite the LSE to cancel this controversial event, therefore reinforcing the LSE’s clear and unfaltering intolerance of racist and xenophobic ideologies.
Marco Scalvini, LSE
Rian Mulcahy, LSE
Nicola Montagna, Middlesex University
Salvatore Patrone, LSE
Nadia Urbinati, Columbia University
Marco Formisano, Humboldt University
Tal Morse, LSE
Alessandra Montalbano, NYU
Massimo De Angelis, University of East London
Elena Bellina, NYU
Paola Ugolini, NYU
Tunc Aybak, Middlesex University
Alberto Toscano, Goldsmiths
Sanaz Raji, University of Leeds