Crispian Balmer, Reuters, Feb. 14, 2006
ROME — Italy’s Reform Minister Roberto Calderoli has had T-shirts made emblazoned with cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a move that could embarrass Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government.
Calderoli, a member of the anti-immigrant Northern League party, told Ansa news agency on Tuesday that the West had to stand up against Islamist extremists and offered to hand out T-shirts to anyone who wanted them.
“I have had T-shirts made with the cartoons that have upset Islam and I will start wearing them today,” Ansa quoted Calderoli as saying.
He said the T-shirts were not meant to be a provocation but added that he saw no point trying to appease extremists.
“We have to put an end to this story that we can talk to these people. They only want to humiliate people. Full stop. And what are we becoming? The civilization of melted butter?” Calderoli said.
Maintaining a steady stream of anti-foreigner invective, Calderoli earlier this month dismissed a Palestinian journalist on a television chat show, as: “that suntanned lady.” He also said he was delighted newcomers to Italy would not benefit from a government scheme to encourage people to have more children.
“I am proud of the fact that the baby bonus will only go to Italian citizens. I say to all those Ali Babas that either Allah or their governments will have to think of them.”