Black Jesus outrages Italy's Northern League

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The Independent Online

A nativity scene featuring a dark-skinned Jesus, Mary and Joseph that has gone on display in a Verona courthouse has created heated debate in a city with strong links to Italy's anti-immigration Northern League party.

The nativity's appearance coincides with the League's controversial "White Christmas" operation, a two-month sweep ending on 25 December to ferret out foreigners without proper permits in Coccaglio, a small League-led town east of Milan.

The Christmas scene – featuring a dark-skinned baby Jesus dressed in a red shirt and lying in a manger– was the idea of Mario Giulio Schinaia, the chief public prosecutor in Verona. "There shouldn't be a white or black Christmas, only a merry Christmas for everyone, of every skin colour, ethnic background and nationality," he said.

The Northern League Farm Minister, Luca Zai, described the scene as "a useless act of provocation".