An Italian politician who has received death threats for her campaign against the oppression of Muslim women has proposed making it illegal for under-age girls to wear a headscarf.
Daniela Santanche of the right-wing National Alliance party was quoted in Thursday’s Corriere della Sera as saying she would submit a bill to parliament forbidding minors from wearing “any kind of veil”.
“Eleven or twelve-year-olds are not able to decide on their own,” Santanche was quoted as saying.
Her announcement came a day after media reports revealed she had received anonymous death threats in a letter written in Arab.
The letter was accompanied by a photograph of murdered Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh and anti-Islam campaigner Ayaan Hirsi Ali accompanied by a text reading “this is the hour of liberation”.
Santanche, who has been slammed on Iranian radio for writing a critical book on the condition of Muslim women, has been living under police escort since October, when she was verbally attacked by a Milan-based imam for describing the veil as “a symbol of women’s submission” during a televised debate.
Speaking to Corriere on Thursday, she said that though she was concerned by the threats, she had no intention of backtracking.
“I really believe that our culture is superior to the Islamic (culture), which lapidates women and allows polygamy,” the opposition lawmaker said.
The veil has become a hot topic of debate in Italy since Prime Minister Romano Prodi said Muslim women should not “hide behind” full veils.
There an estimated 1 million Muslims, mostly foreign immigrants, living in overwhelmingly Catholic Italy.