Gianluca Buonanno, a Northern League MP, caused a ruckus in the Chamber of Deputies earlier this month by waving a fish around to protest the government’s immigration policy.
Buonanno picked out a sea bass to symbolize the food eaten by politicians such as Laura Boldrini, president of the Chamber of Deputies, arguing that immigration policy was impoverishing Italians who were forced to eat sardines.
Boldrini did not take kindly to the fishy interruption, ejecting the right-wing politician and from Tuesday handing him a 12-day suspension which takes effect from today. Responding to the sanction, Buonanno said “Laura Boldrini could be the ideal president of the Chamber of Deputies in [dictatorship] North Korea.”
“A twelve-day suspension for bringing a sea bass into the chamber and having criticized the policy in favour of illegal immigrants, is an excessive punishment that demonstrates a strong prejudice against me,” Buonanno was quoted in Il Tempo as saying.
“This suspension for having defending the common people is, for me, a medal on my chest,” he added.
Buonanno’s protest forms part of a wider debate in Italy over how the government should respond to the growing number of boat migrants arriving on the country’s southern shores.
As of last week around 22,000 migrants and asylum seekers had arrived so far this year, a tenfold jump on the same period 2013, as people flee instability and war in countries such as Syria.
Italy’s sea operation to save people from the fragile migrant ships costs an estimated €9 million a month, a cost the country is struggling to bear, and Prime Minister Matteo Renzi this month renewed calls for greater EU support in the Mediterranean.
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