Italy: ex-minister calls for pig day against new mosques

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(ANSA) - Rome, September 13 - An opposition ex-minister who stoked international Muslim anger a year ago fired off a fresh broadside at Islam on Thursday by calling for a 'pig day' battle against mosque building on Italian soil. Northern League heavyweight Roberto Calderoli, who was reform minister under the previous, Silvio Berlusconi-led government and is now deputy Senate speaker, said pigs should be brought in to thwart plans for the construction of a major mosque in Bologna.

"I place myself and my pig at the disposal of those who are against this mosque. We will walk up and down on the land where they want to build, after which it will be considered 'infected' and no longer suitable," Calderoli said.

He said he had used the same tactic with success in another northern city, Lodi.

"In future, we should organise a 'pig day' where the best pigs will be kept in places where they are thinking of putting up buildings which are not places of worship but potential centres for harbouring terrorist cells," he said.

Calderoli also said he would deliberately eat pork on Thursday to "annoy" Muslims beginning their month-long Ramadan fast.

Welfare Minister Paolo Ferrero immediately condemned Calderoli's comments.

"I apologise on behalf of all civilised Italians to Muslims living in Italy," Ferrero said.

In February 2006, Calderoli was forced to quit as reform minister after he sported a T-shirt emblazoned with the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad which at the time were causing a wave of international Muslim protests ...