• Italy's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Muslim mayor refuses to take in refugees
Mayor Arturo Cerulli converted to Islam 27 years ago. Photo: Arturo Cerulli

Muslim mayor refuses to take in refugees

Josephine McKenna · 28 Aug 2015, 12:20

Published: 28 Aug 2015 12:20 GMT+02:00

Centre-right mayor Arturo Cerulli has openly rejected growing political pressure for councils to do more to welcome the thousands of asylum seekers landing in Italy and help to ease the worsening refugee crisis.

“We don’t want refugees here, we don’t have the facilities for them,” Cerulli told The Local on Friday. “We don’t know where to put them, we don’t know what to do with them.”

Cerulli, 60, is a former nuclear engineer and aligned with the New Centre-Right party (NCD) of interior minister, Angelino Alfano.

During his engineering career he travelled extensively to countries including Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and the US, and is married to an Indonesian woman.

He converted to Islam 27 years ago but insists his refusal to welcome asylum seekers is unaffected by his religion.

“Religion has nothing to do with it,” Cerulli said. “I am speaking as the mayor, not as a global citizen. I have to take care of my area, my citizens. I would not know where to put refugees.

“If we accept six people, then they will send another six and then 20 more.”

Monte Argentario on the Tyrrhenian coast near Grosseto is a stunning peninsula that includes popular holiday resort towns of Porto Ercole and Porto Santo Stefano.

With its panoramic views across the Tuscan Archipelago, the peninsula is popular with foreign and Italian holidaymakers and the population swells from 13,000 to more than 30,000 in the summer months.

“Here it’s full of the ‘radical chic’, left-wing intellectuals,” Cerulli said. “Let them open up their beautiful villas and welcome them if they think it’s better.”

Cerulli has recently come under attack from centre-left regional politician Leonardo Marras who accused the mayor of failing to respect the principles of his Islamic faith.

“Muslims like all the faithful believe in hospitality as a model of human relations,” Marras said in an open letter published in several Italian newspapers in August.

“Is your refusal based on objective reasons or prejudice?”

Story continues below…

In July, Enrico Rossi, the President of the Tuscany region and Sara Biagiotti, head of the National Association of Italian Municipalities (Anci) wrote to 146 local mayors urging them to welcome more immigrants.

“Rossi continues to send circulars demanding all the councils do their part,” Cerulli added. “And what if I am opposed to that? What’s he going to do, treat me badly?”

He told The Local it was up to the national government to resolve the crisis instead of transferring the problem to local councils and individual mayors.

According to the latest figures, more than 100,000 immigrants have arrived in Italy in 2015. 

For more news from Italy, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Josephine McKenna (news@thelocal.it)

Today's headlines
20 KG ice 'meteorite' destroys car in central Rome
Experts think the ice fell from the undercarridge of a jet. Photo: Olivier Cabaret

Investigators say the huge piece of ice probably fell from a passing jet plane.

The Local List
12 mistakes foreigners make when moving to Italy
Photo: Alberto Fava/Flickr

When you move to Italy, you're bound to make a few mistakes before you settle into la dolce vita. Here are a few to look out for...

What we learned from Theresa May’s first visit to Italy as PM
UK PM Theresa May met Italian PM Matteo Renzi in Rome on Wednesday, Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

UK Prime Minister Theresa May was in Rome on Wednesday for a lunch meeting her Italian counterpart, Matteo Renz. The pair discussed Brexit, the migrant crisis and the terrorist threat facing Europe.

Two arrested over WhatsApp terrorism probe
The two men had been living in Italy for years. Photo: Raffaele Esposito/Flickr

A WhatsApp message mistakenly sent to a woman in Liguria sparked a full-blown terror probe.

Italian team finds vaccine against western diet's ills
An Italian team have discovered a vaccine that could protect against illnesses caused by the typical western diet. Photo: Alpha/Joe Flintham/Flickr

The vaccine could reduce incidences of type 2 diabetes and heart problems commonly associated with obesity.

Higuain goes from hero to zero after big-money Juve deal
The striker moved to Juventus on Monday for €90 million.Photo: Carlo Hermann/AFP

Napoli fans are furious with their former Argentinian talisman after his big-money move to rivals Juventus.

Fiat Chrysler revises 'doctored' sales figures amid probe
Fiat Chrysler is being investigated over allegations it doctored US sales figures. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP

The company now says it did not really celebrate a streak of monthly year-over-year sales gains going back to April 2010.

Napoli's Gonzalo Higuain joins Juventus: official
Gonzalo Higuain is now a Juventus player. Photo: Nelson Almedia/AFP

Gonzalo Higuain completed his move to Juventus after the Italian champions reportedly agreed to pay a €94.7 million buyout clause to wrest the Argentine striker from Napoli on Tuesday.

Italy's government nets €759 million in air traffic sale
Italy has sold part of its air traffic service company Enav. Photo: Luigi Rosa/Flickr

The Italian government on Tuesday sold part of air traffic service company Enav on the stock exchange, netting €759 million.

After Brexit, keep a close eye on Italy's Five Star Movement
Italy's Five Star Movement (MS5) is now the country's most popular political party. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

The political pulse of Italy has changed its rhythm.

Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Travel
Five crowd-free alternatives to Italy's tourist hotspots
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Italian hotspots struggling with 'too many tourists'
Culture
Meet the Italian chef behind the world's best restaurant
Travel
Escape the heat at one of these beautiful Italian lakes
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Politics
Why the UK is now officially crazier than Italy
Culture
How you can stay cool like an ancient Roman
Lifestyle
Food for thought: fight on to save Med diet from extinction
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
From asylum seeker in Italy to organic yoghurt entrepreneur
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Fifteen maps that tell the story of Italy
National
Why Italy might be the next big threat to the EU's future
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Politics
Post Brexit, less than a third of Italians want to leave EU
Politics
The bright side of Brexit: the 'good news' for Brits in Italy
Culture
Eight wonderful things to do in Italy in July
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Travel
Six of the best places to visit within easy reach of Rome
British business owners in Italy feel Brexit jitters
National
How to get Italian citizenship (or at least stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Politics
Where does Britain's exit from the EU leave Italy?
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Politics
Has the time come for Italy’s Five Star Movement to shine?
Society
Why Italy must change after young woman’s brutal murder
Politics
Is Italy's Five Star up to the challenge of running Rome?
Culture
Six of the most bizarre Italian foods everyone should try
2,581
jobs available