Northern Italian charged for insulting 'a southerner' online

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An Italian man has been charged for making offensive comments about Italy's southerners on Facebook. Photo: Christopher
10:51 CET+01:00
A 40-year-old man from northern Italy has been charged with defamation and inciting ethnic hatred after writing a post on Facebook insulting the inhabitants of Italy's south.

The man, from Settimo Torinese, a small town outside the northern Italian city of Turin, left several comments on the social media site on a story about the death of a 17-year-old student from Siracusa in Sicily, La Stampa reported.

The student was killed in a road accident while driving his scooter in October.

The man's posts made liberal use used the word terrone, a highly offensive word used to describe people from south or central Italy.

The word comes from the root terra, meaning land, and is used to deride people living south of Bologna.

The word implies that southerners are lazy, ignorant peasants and is testament to the strong cultural and economic divide that exists between north and south Italy.

“That's one terrone less for us [northern Italians] to support,” he wrote. “I know that in the coffin there is an ignorant southerner and I enjoy it.”

Another post read “Good evening sh***y terroni, will any more of you die today?”

His shocking comments were widely shared by incredulous people on social media and were eventually reported to police in Siracusa.

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Prosecutors used a specialist telecommunications investigation unit to track down the man, who had used a fake profile to make the offensive remarks. 

“Among all forms of poverty, moral poverty poses the greatest risk to humanity,” the public prosecutor, Francesco Paolo Giordano, was quoted as saying by La Stampa.  

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