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Italy: Right-wing minister wants 'cross' on flag

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    Posted: 03 December 2009 at 4:07pm

Italy: Right-wing minister wants 'cross' on flag

Milan, 30 Nov. (AKI) - A conservative Italian minister from the anti-immigrant Northern League has lauded the decision by Swiss voters to ban minarets and called for the Christian cross to be included on the Italian flag.

"I hope that the party to which I am honoured to belong puts forth my proposal," said Roberto Castelli, deputy minister of infrastructure and transport.

"Europe has the right to safeguard its own identity, respecting other people's roots, but it is necessary to return to our roots," said Castelli.

He said that Islam is an "intolerant religion".

Castelli made the remarks after Swiss voters supported a referendum proposal to ban the building of minarets.

Switzerland's Muslim population is estimated to be at 400,000 or 5.2 percent of the total population. However, there are only four minarets in the entire country.

More than 57 percent of voters, as well as 22 out of Switzerland's 26 cantons voted in favour of the ban, despite the government opposition to such a move, saying it would harm the country's image.

The federal council (government) however, has to respect the decision by the cantons.

"Once again, the Swiss teach us a lesson in civilisation," concluded Castelli.

Meanwhile, the leader of Italy's Federation of the Greens party Angelo Bonelli, responded ironically to Castelli's demand.

"Deputy minister Castelli wants to put the cross in the flag? So when do we begin a crusade to liberate the holy land?" said Bonelli.

The colours of Italy's flag, commonly known as the 'tricolore', are green, white and red, and are commonly interpreted as the green showing the country's plains and hills, the white representing the snow-capped Alps, and red representing the blood spilt in the wars of independence.

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