The Daily Beast's Barbie Latza Nadeau reports that Donald Trump has a new friend:
Salvini, who has called German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s policy to accept Syrian refugees a disaster, and who has been pictured with a bulldozer on the edge of Roma camps,tweeted a selection of pictures of himself at a Trump rally in Philadelphia. In one, he poses with the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination in what appears to be a somewhat awkward “thumbs up” moment with the caption, “Go, Donald, Go!”
... The Italian politician is widely known in Italy and throughout Europe for his radical right-wing rallies, during which it is common for him to slip on a black shirt to pay homage to the Fascist era. His rallies have often included people waving photos of Benito Mussolini, who he has praised for his “efficiency” and “dedication” to the country.
It must be noted that Salvini and Trump also share a common anti-immigration attitude, and after the meeting said they were in “total agreement” on closed borders. Salvini ... also idolizes Vladimir Putin....
Nadeau wrote this about Salvini last month:
The message was lost on no one when Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy’s xenophobic Northern League, slid a black T-shirt over his button-down white work shirt to address a crowd in Rome’s Piazza del Popolo on Saturday, calling for the overthrow of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi in one of the most visceral anti-government, anti-Europe demonstrations the Italian capital has seen in years.
The square was full of followers.... Some waved the Russian flag, others held signs with black-and-white photos of Italy’s favorite fascist dictator, Benito Mussolini, whose Black Shirts proved to be the most influential political force in Italian history. Flags with the black Celtic cross -- a universal sign for neo-Nazis -- fluttered in the wind above the crowd.
Some of what Salvini does is merely vile:
Italy's first-ever black minister was immediately at the centre of a virulent controversy as her appointment was deplored by the rightwing Northern League.
Cecile Kyenge, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, takes on a new portfolio for racial integration. She is one of two naturalised Italians in the government, both elected for the centre-left Democratic party (PD)....
Matteo Salvini, secretary of the League in Lombardy, called the 48-year-old Kyenge "the symbol of a hypocritical, do-gooding left that would like to abolish the crime of illegal immigration and only thinks about immigrants' rights and not their duties". He said the League was ready to mount "total opposition" to her in parliament.
Some is reminiscent of the ignorance and gullibility of some politicians on the American right:
Reports that an Italian headmaster had banned or postponed Christmas concerts and carols in his school to avoid causing offence to students from other religious faiths have raised a nationwide controversy -- one based on very few actual facts.
Far-right politicians travelled to the Garofani comprehensive school in the small city of Rozzano, near Milan, to express support to Catholic parents protesting against the decision of headmaster Marco Parma.
Matteo Salvini, leader of the anti-migrant and federalist Northern League party, sang Christmas carols and carried nativity scenes in an attempt to exploit the outcry for political purposes.
... However, the outcry bares little resemblance to the facts of the situation.
... The headmaster just decided to add to the traditional Catholic festivities a so-called Winter Concert, to be held on 21 January. Parma also denied press reports that he had banned crucifixes from classrooms.
Reports from staff, some parents and teachers seem to confirm the headmaster's version of events. "No festivity was cancelled, all activities planned for these days were scheduled in September, plus a winter concert to be held in January," Maria Sbrescia, spokesperson for the school's parents, said."
And then there's this:
A frequent guest on TV shows, Salvini has made a name for himself for his anti-Muslim statements.
“Islam is the only religion that creates problems, in Italy, Europe and in the Middle East,” he says in a telephone conversation with Haaretz. “If Muslims are having a hard time coexisting with the rest of the world, the problem cannot be with all the rest of the world. It must be Islam, and indeed the Koran itself is problematic.”
Recently, Salvini made headlines for having organized an anti-immigration rally in his native Milan, on October 18, with his controversial ally: CasaPound....
Salvini seems to be very cozy with the overtly anti-Semitic group CasaPound -- an organization that's openly nostalgic for Mussolini, and two of whose members were arrested in 2013 for allegedly planning the rape of a Jewish girl.
... Questioned about an alliance, Salvini answers: “I really don’t see what the problem is. I don’t have issues with anyone and certainly not with CasaPound.”
About those arrests:
Italian police arrested on Thursday right-wing extremists in several cities on charges of inciting anti-Semitic and anti-foreign hatred and violence and planning to rape a Jewish student.
About 10 people, all between the ages of 21 and 33, were arrested on January 24 in dawn raids in Naples, Salerno and Latina, according to the Italian news agency ANSA....
One recording caught a speaker proposing “to beat and rape a student whose only ‘guilt’ is to be Jewish,” stated the news site leggo.it.
"They were systematically indoctrinating young militants to hate foreigners and Jews at meetings in which, among other things, they discussed Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf," the site quoted Naples Assistant Prosecutor Rosario Cantelmo as saying.
The extremists were charged with crimes including possession of illegal arms and explosives, subversive association, taking part in political street brawls in Naples in 2011 and violent attacks on left-wing activists using knives and firebombs.
Some suspects were placed under house arrest. Central to the investigation are the activities of three extreme right-wing groups, including Casa Pound, whose members around the country have been linked to violent clashes with leftists.
Casa Pound ... takes its name from the American poet Ezra Pound, who sympathized with Fascism and admired World War II dictator Benito Mussolini....
[Marine] Le Pen’s National Front and other far-right European parties ... gathered in Milan for a conference [in February], hosted by Salvini, of a new group in the European Parliament, the Europe of Nations and Freedom. Its 38 MEPs from groups such as the National Front, the Dutch and Austrian Freedom Parties and Belgium’s Vlaams Belang see the refugee crisis and related security concerns as an opportunity to move from the political fringe to real power....
During the meeting, Salvini posted a selfie on Facebook with far-right leaders including Le Pen and the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders with the caption: “We will not surrender to the clandestine invasion.”
Does Trump know any of this about Salvini? Do any of his advisers know? Hard to say -- it's not a campaign full of well-informed people. But would Trump have a problem with Salvini if he did know all about him? Also hard to say. And that's what's worrying.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog