Italy's far-right government to restrict opening hours of 'ethnic shops'

Interior minister Matteo Salvini says nuisance shops are 'almost all managed by foreign citizens'

Jon Stone
Europe Correspondent
Monday 15 October 2018 17:54 BST
Luxembourg foreign minister stands up against Matteo Salvini

The Italian government will target “ethnic” shops for restrictions on opening hours, the country’s far-right interior minister has said.

Matteo Salvini said some shops, “almost all managed by foreign citizens”, had “become the haunt of drunks and drug dealers” in the evening.

He said the government would be bringing forward an amendment to its security and immigration decree that would require such shops to close by 9pm.

Mr Salvini, the leader of the far-right League party which is in coalition with the populist Five Star Movement, did not elaborate on which shops would be affected.

Since coming to power, the new Italian government has launched a series of anti-foreigner and ethnic minority policies, including turning away refugee ships, crackdowns on pro-immigration local politicians, and a “census” of the country’s Roma traveller population.

In a broadcast on social media the minister, who has been by far the most prominent public face of the new government, claimed such shops were full of “people who drink beer, whiskey until three in the morning” and who “piss and shit” on the doorstep.

Across most of Italy, as in many countries, late-night shops are more often than not run by migrants servicing the night-time economy.

League party leader Matteo Salvini

Some locales have already seen increasing restrictions on opening hours in recent years, supported across the political spectrum – but Mr Salvini’s intervention is the first time the policies have been promoted in explicitly xenophobic terms by a front-line politician.

“It is not an initiative against foreign shops, but an initiative to limit the abuses and irregularities of some shops - almost all managed by foreign citizens - that become a receptacle for people who make a mess,” Mr Salvini argued.

The measure comes as the Italian government said it would remove all migrants from a town in the south of the country famous for welcoming newcomers, as part of its war on immigration.

For 20 years Riace, in the Calabria region, has encouraged immigration to boost its economy and population after it suffered from domestic emigration.

Earlier this month, the town’s mayor Domenico Lucano was controversially arrested for this policy, over alleged “immigration crimes”.

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