Mayor fumes as Indian woman becomes Italian

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09:49 CET+01:00
An Indian woman in northern Italy who was initially barred from completing the process towards gaining Italian citizenship by a mayor who argued that her language skills were not up to scratch, has finally become an Italian citizen.

Rani Puspha, 56, on Monday afternoon completed the final step towards becoming an Italian citizen after the prefect in the woman’s hometown of Cairate intervened, Corriere della Sera reported.

The decision came a week after Pushpa was stopped from swearing the oath of allegiance, the final step towards gaining citizenship, by Cairate’s mayor Paolo Mazzuchelli.

The mayor chose not to attend the ceremony, calling it an “error in both style and substance”, choosing to send local councillor Andrea Di Salvo in his place.

"In the next few days I will calmly evaluate the formal error. But the error is fundamental because the woman does not speak Italian and is not able to integrate. My position is not ideological, a serious debate is needed," Mazzuchelli was quoted as saying by the newspaper.  

Speaking after the ceremony, Francesca Gioffrè, Pushpa's lawyer, said: "Rani has lived in Italy for more than ten years. She had a right to citizenship and I'm sorry that the mayor did not want to attend."

Despite the fact that Pushpa had lived in the country for 15 years, Mazzuchelli, who is from the anti-immigration Northern League party, had argued that her Italian was not good enough to become an Italian citizen, and advised her to take a language course.

In an interview with Corriere della Sera last week, Pushpa said: “I’ve already been a number of times to ask to swear the oath, but I wasn’t allowed. Now I’ve spent two months in an Italian school, and my language skills are getting better.”

Her lawyer had accused Mazzucchelli of failing to perform his official duties and said the case would be taken to court if Puspha was not allowed to swear the oath imminently.

Pushpa’s husband Kuman, who is already an Italian citizen, said he wanted his and his wife’s “rights to be respected.”

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Mazzucchelli’s Northern League has being gaining popularity in recent months, with party leader Matteo Salvini campaigning on a firmly anti-immigration stance.

At a rally in Rome late last month, which was attended by supporters of the extreme right, Salvini listed stopping immigration as one of the party’s three priorities, along with scrapping the euro and getting back “monetary sovereignty”.

“There is no more room for anyone else with the unemployment rates we have today. And finally, Italians first," Salvini said.

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