After the vote, Salvini thanked the Italian people and “the blessed Virgin Mary”. He added that it was not a victory for his League party but “a step forward towards a more secure Italy”.
Ex-premier Silvio Berlusconi’s opposition centre-right Forza Italia did not take part in the vote while the Brothers of Italy (FdI) party abstained as well as five Senators for the 5-Star Movement (M5S), the coalition partner of Salvini’s League.
In the end the package nevertheless prevailed with ease, with 160 votes in favour, 57 against and 21 abstentions.
Among other things, the new decree will mean that the commanders of ships who rescue migrants at sea and take them into Italian waters without permission, will face stiff fines of up to one million euros as well as the impoundment of their vessels.
The aim of the legislation – approved last year already – is to build on the security-and-migrantion decree that was drafted Salvini. The popular leader has spearheaded the government’s tough stance of denying NGO-run migrant-rescue ships access to Italian ports.
Critics maintain that it could undermine the human rights of asylum seekers. The United Nations and the Council of Europe have both expressed their reservations about the decree.
Avvenire, the daily newspaper of Italian bishops conference CEI, on Tuesday slammed Salvini’s new security decree that won final approval on Monday.
The headline read: “(In)security bis” and the report elaborated on a “disconcerting combination” after Salvini linked the approval of the decree, the birthday of the Virgin Mary and Medjugorje, a village in Bosnia where the Madonna allegedly appears to local people.
“Those who have been to Medjugorie know this, today is August 5, it’s the Virgin Mary’s birthday and I am happy today she is giving Italy a beautiful present”, Salvini said Monday after the measure passed a test of a confidence vote in the Senate.
Meanwhile the editor-in-chief of the Jesuit magazine Civiltà Cattolica, Father Antonio Spadaro, commented on social media about the new legislation for which Salvini thanked the Virgin Mary with an image of the Madonna wearing a life vest while praying on a dinghy in the middle of the sea.
“This is the time for human, civil and religious resistance”, Spadaro tweeted. Salvini has been accused of racism and being “out of control” following comments about a Romani woman on Twitter.
The 46-year-old leader of the League party was tweeting in response on Thursday evening to a news report that showed a woman living in a Roma camp in northern Milan saying she thought Salvini deserved “bullets in the head”.
Salvini said in response a bulldozer will soon be heading to the woman’s home. He called her a zingaraccia or gypsy. “Is it normal for a gypsy woman in Milan to say: ‘Salvini should be shot in the head?’”
The League party leader added: “Be good, gypsy, be good, for the bulldozer is arriving soon”.
Salvini has vowed to regularize Italy’s Roma camps, by shutting down “illegal” settlements. His comments on Thursday sparked an outcry, after some pointed out that they were posted on the eve of Roma Holocaust Memorial Day.
The commemoration is held on August 2 in remembrance of Romani and Sinti people who had died at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in 1944, according to Euronews.
Antonio Spadaro, the director of Italian magazine La Civiltà Cattolica, condemned Salvini’s “abominable” comment. “The word, zingaraccia, that resounded in the ears of Italians today is abominable.”
Democratic Party politician Roberto Giachetti said Salvini was “out of control”, and suggested that he be stopped “before it’s too late”.
Italian journalist, Corrado Formigli, asked on Twitter whether a politician who uses “openly racist terms” should be allowed to be in a top position such as the country’s Interior Minister.
Salvini shrugged off the comments, saying he found it “crazy” that people worried about the word zingaraccia, but not about the death threat made by the woman. “Crazy stuff. The problem is not a gypsy, living in an illegal Roma camp, who threatens to kill the Minister of the Interior. The problem for some is the word ‘zingaraccia’,” he said.
“I’m going ahead until the goal is reached: zero Roma camps in Italy.”