Immigration

Italian political candidate in race storm

A member of Italy's far-right Northern League party has been condemned for expressing views about increased immigration.

An Italian political candidate has sparked outrage by saying the country cannot accept more immigrants if "our white race" is to continue.

Political opponents have condemned the comments by Attilio Fontana, who is running in the northern Lombardy region with backing from a centre-right alliance.

Jewish leaders claimed it recalled anti-Semitic racial laws enacted during Benito Mussolini's dictatorship.

Fontana told Radio Padania that being unwilling to "accept all" immigrants isn't "xenophobic or racist," but logical.

He said Italy needs to decide "if our white race, our society, must continue to exist or be cancelled out."

Facing a barrage of condemnation for his comments, Fontana later said it had been a "lapse".

But he received swift support from party leader, Matteo Salvini, an ally of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, whose popularity has risen strongly in recent years thanks to his anti-migrant stance.

"We are under attack. Our culture, society, traditions and way of life are at risk," he said in a statement.

"The colour of one's skin has nothing to do with it, but the risk is very real. Centuries of history risk disappearing if Islamisation, which up until now has been underestimated, gains the upper hand."

Italy holds national elections on March 4 and immigration has become a major campaign issue.

But the head of the ruling Democratic Party, former prime minister Matteo Renzi, accused the Northern League on Monday of scaremongering.

"We look to the future, not to fear," Renzi said.

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