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– Twenty-First Century Crusades?

Prediction 1: Continued tension and backlash against Muslims in Europe

Italy calls state of emergency over influx of immigrants
Richard Owen in Rome

Italy declared a “national state of emergency” over illegal immigration yesterday — and was promptly accused of causing unnecessary alarm with xenophobic rhetoric.

A Cabinet statement said that the Government had to confront a “persistent and exceptional influx” of non-EU citizens and it had approved a proposal from Roberto Maroni, the Interior Minister, to declare a state of emergency “throughout the national territory”.

Mario Morcone, a senior official at the Interior Ministry, said that the decision had been prompted by the continuing arrival of illegal immigrants in ramshackle boats run by people-smugglers at the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa, just off the North African coast. Many such boats capsize and their passengers drown.

Mr Morcone said that 9,342 immigrants had arrived between the start of the year and the end of June — double the figure for the previous year — and there were at present more than 1,000 at the overcrowded refugee camp in Lampedusa. Some are repatriated but many are sent to immigrant camps on the Italian mainland.

The centre-left Opposition demanded an explanation for the state of emergency being declared, saying that it would cause “confusion and alarm”.

Silvio Berlusconi, the Prime Minister, won final parliamentary approval this week for a security package under which illegal immigrants convicted of crimes will face jail sentences a third longer than those for Italians.
 

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