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Italian politician praising Norwegian murderer’s ideas is suspended from party in Prime Minister Berlusconi’s coalition

Published:

An official from a party in Premier Silvio Berlusconi’s coalition was suspended Friday for praising the anti-Islam line espoused by the Norwegian man accused of carrying out the deadly bombing and shooting rampage.

State TV says Mario Borghezio, a leader of the Northern League coalition ally, was suspended for three months from his party. He is a member of the European Parliament and a top regional official of the vehemently anti-immigrant party.

In interviews with mainstream Italian radio shows, Mr. Borghezio lauded much in the manifesto of Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian arrested in the bombing of Oslo and the shooting rampage at a youth camp on a Norwegian island on July 22. The attacks left 77 people dead.

Interior Minister Roberto Maroni, a League leader, sidestepped reporters’ questions about the suspension. Lapresse news agency quoted him as saying only that Mr. Borghezio’s case was discussed at a meeting of top League officials in Milan, the populist party’s power base.

Mr. Borghezio had claimed on Italian state radio that he shared Breivik’s “opposition to Islam,” including the call for a “crusade” by Christians against Europe’s “drift” toward Islam.”

Positions like Breivik “garner 20 percent” of votes in Europe, claimed Mr. Borghezio, saying that means “100 million people think this way.”

“These are things many believe in,” Mr. Borghezio said.

In a separate interview, with Il Sole-24 radio, Mr. Borghezio had praised some of the ideas Breivik expressed as “good – barring the violence – some of them are great.”

“I respond to the suspension like the militant soldier I hold myself to be would respond: I obey,” Mr. Borghezio told private La 7 TV. “Even if I must stress that the sanction is totally unfair.”

Mr. Borghezio offered his apologies to the Norwegian embassy in Rome Friday, while claiming his radio remarks were “badly interpreted,” the Italian news agency ANSA reported. It quoted him as saying he expressed his regret for the violence in Norway when signing a condolence book at the embassy.

He is notorious for provocative comments. In May, he hailed war crimes suspect Ratko Mladic as a patriot and said the Serbs could have halted an Islamic “advance” in Europe.