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Posted by On 12:44 AM

Italy Hopes to Help Pakistani Christian Facing Threats After Blasphemy Acquittal

(ROME) â€" Italy said Tuesday that it is working to help relocate the family of a Pakistani Christian woman acquitted eight years after being sentenced to death for blasphemy, amid warnings from her husband that the family’s life is in danger in Pakistan.

The Foreign Ministry said it was coordinating with other countries to ensure safety for Asia Bibi and her family. In a statement, the ministry said it was ready to act on whatever the Italian government might decide â€" an indication that an offer of asylum might be in the offing.

Also Tuesday, a lawmaker in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative party called for Germany to grant Bibi refuge, after her husband Ashiq Masih appealed for help from the West to relocate the family.

Bibi was convicted in 2010 of insulting Islam’s prophet, but Pakistan’s top court acquitted her last week. Protests by hardline Islamists prompted the government to impose a travel ban on Bibi until her case is reviewed.

Bibi’s case has been closely followed in Italy for years, and Pope Francis met earlier this year with her family in a show of solidarity.

Read more: A Pakistan Court Overturned a Christian Woman’s Death Sentence for Blasphemy. Now, Protests Are Spreading Across the Country

Even Italy’s hardline, anti-migrant interior minister Matteo Salvini stressed that he would do “all that is humanly possible” to ensure Bibi and her family are safe, either in Italy or some other country.

Salvini distinguished between Bibi and the tens of thousands of migrants who try to seek out a better life in Italy via smugglers’ boats from Libya.

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Source: Google News Italy | Netizen 24 Italy


Posted by On 10:38 PM

Italy's battle with Brussels is about more than money

Opinion Italy Italy’s battle with Brussels is about more than money Maurizio Molinari

The unlikely coalition running Italy has one thing that unites it â€" hostility to the EU

Italy’s deputy prime minister and leader of the Five Star Movement Luigi Di Maio
Italy’s deputy prime minister and leader of the Five Star Movement Luigi Di Maio. Photograph: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP/Getty Images

Italy’s most recent general election, in March, triggered a political revolution. The consequences are now being felt across the continent. And revolution is the right word to describe what happened. The established parties on both left and right were simply swept aside in favour of the Five Star Movement and the League (formerly the Northern League). Neither was around when the Italian constitution was approved; neither played a role in Italy’s postwar reconstruction; and neither had a part in the foundation of the EU and Nato. Now these new forces have joined together to give voice to the deepening anxiety of the middle classes, an anxiety affecting attitudes to every type of institution, be it national, European or global.

Eurozone ministers line up behind EU in Italy budget dispute Read more

Three things triggered this act of protest in Italy. First, economic inequality, or the impact of globalisation, which has impoverished Italy through the departure of businesses and flight of jobs abroad, â€" from eastern Europe to the Far East â€" and which has brought foreign imports to Italy at very competitive prices. Second, starting in 2015, the arrival from North Africa and the M iddle East of migrants in far higher numbers than Italy â€" essentially white and Catholic even now â€" is used to receiving. Third, exasperation at the endemic corruption that has afflicted the country for generations.

Italian families found themselves trapped in a suffocating vice: globalisation was spiriting away factories and plants, migrants were competing for badly paid jobs, and corruption was as bad as ever. In 2017 some five million Italians didn’t have enough money to go on holiday, and at least 250,000 â€" most of them young â€" moved abroad. The inequality-migrant-corruption domino effect triggered a spiral of distrust that prompted protests against everything and everyone.

The traditional parties â€" beginning with the biggest ones, the Democratic party and Forza Italia â€" failed to grasp the magnitude of the discontent, so the political prize went to those politicians who could. In the south it was Luigi Di Maio’s Five Star Movement that prevailed †" thanks to its “citizenship income” proposal â€" a benefit of €780 (£680) a month for the unemployed. In the north it was Matteo Salvini’s League, which backed two horses at the same time: the so-called “flat tax” to help out businesses in difficulty; and a tough approach to migrants. Five Star and the League have clear dividing lines â€" their geographic base, their economic ideas and their social makeup. But they have one thing in common: hostility to the European Union.

Five Star accuses the EU of being the root cause of Italy’s economic woes, and the League blames it for having abandoned Italy to the migrant crisis. Which explains why, for Di Maio’s supporters as much as for Salvini’s, the current battle with the European commission over the government’s proposed budget, judged by Brussels to violate agreed eurozone spending restraint, is essentially about identity. The standoff is not just about the deficit, the outlook for growth, the failure to br ing down Italy’s debt and the absence of reform: its root cause is the coalition’s belief that by revolutionising its relationship with the EU, Italy will be able to win back trust, optimism and a better future.

Will the far right clean up as Rome crumbles? Read more

Hence the current short-circuit between Rome and Brussels. While the commission is trying to negotiate with Giovanni Tria, the minister for the economy, to modify the Italian budget, Salvini’s and Di Maio’s interests lie in a full-frontal confrontation with Europe.

This is what makes a compromise so difficult, meaning Italy risks large EU fines. And such punishment could become the symbol of all the EU’s flaws, just as Salvini’s League and Five Star hope to play a leading role in next May’s European elections. When Di Maio promises to “sweep away this European establishment” and Salvini sees on the horizon a “quiet revolution in Europe”, what they have in mind is a rep eat in the European elections of their extraordinary domestic electoral triumph, in alliance with other nationalist and Eurosceptic parties.

Right now, it is impossible to tell if they can pull this off, or whether the Five Star/League coalition can navigate the looming financial crisis. But one thing is certain. The anxiety of the Italian middle classes about inequality, migration and corruption that sparked this revolution will continue to hold centre stage in Italy and in Europe until real, strategic answers are found.

• Maurizio Molinari is director of Italian daily newspaper La Stampa and the author of Why it happened here â€" The origins of the Italian populism that has shaken Europe

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Source: Google News Italy | Netizen 24 Italy


Posted by On 10:38 PM

Italy Offers To Help Relocate Pakistani Christian Woman Acquitted Of Blasphemy

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Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman, listens to officials in 2010 at a prison near Lahore. Her blasphemy conviction has been reversed but advocates say she and her family are in danger in Pakistan. AP hide caption

toggle caption AP

Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman, listens to officials in 2010 at a prison near Lahore. Her blasphemy conviction has been reversed but advocates say she and her family are in danger in Paki stan.


The Italian government says it will help a Pakistani Christian woman and her family leave that country following her recent acquittal on a charge that she blasphemed against Islam in a high-profile case.

The woman, Asia Bibi, an illiterate mother of five, had been imprisoned for eight years after being sentenced to death for insulting Islam's prophet. Her acquittal by Pakistan's Supreme Court last week has sparked angry protests by hard-line Islamist groups demanding her public execution.

A statement by the Italian Foreign Ministry said it is prepared to implement any decision by the government to help Bibi, the Associated Press reported.

Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said he would do "everything humanly possible" to secure Bibi's safety in his country or in other European countries. Other Western countries have offered Bibi's family as ylum, but they are reported to be moving cautiously for fear of creating a backlash against their own diplomats in Pakistan.

Bibi, a 51-year-old farmhand, was accused of blasphemy after a dispute with her fellow Muslim workers over her drinking water from the same cup as them. They accused her of insulting the prophet Muhammad, a charge which she denied. But Bibi was convicted and sentenced to death in 2010.

Her case has won widespread attention in Western countries, even a call for her release by Pope Benedict XVI.

Following her acquittal, extreme religious groups called for the deaths of the three Supreme Court judges who acquitted her. They also called for a military revolt against army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa.

Bibi is reported to be detained in an undisclosed but secure location inside Pakistan. Talks between the government and the religious groups to ease tensions have stalled.

Bibi's husband, Ashiq Masih, has appealed t o the United Kingdom requesting asylum. He also asked for help from Canada and the United States.

Meanwhile, the attorney who represented Bibi, Saif-ul-Mulook, is reported to be in fear for his life and is seeking asylum from the Netherlands.

Source: Google News Italy | Netizen 24 Italy


Posted by On 3:01 PM

Slower Eurozone Growth In Q3 Not A Major Concern, But Watch Italy

Eurozone GDP growth was very soft in the third quarter, coming in at 0.6% for the three months to September on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis, against consensus expectations of around 1.5%. While the release is disappointing, we caution against extrapolating this weakness in quarters ahead, for a few reasons:

  1. Business surveys, and the Purchasing Manufacturing Index (PMI) in particular, have been pointing to somewhat healthier quarterly growth of 1.25% to 1.5% in recent months.
  2. There has been a clear pattern of upward revisions in eurozone GDP in expansionary phases of the business cycle. This could be the case again for the last quarter and for previous quarters more broadly.
  3. There were temporary factors that weakened growth in the middle of the year - first and foremost disruptions in car production from new car emissions testing procedures (affecting German growth significantly given the importance of car production in the country, but also other countries).
  4. The turnaround in oil prices since the start of October, if sustained, should help household income and consumer spending ahead.

Italian growth stagnating

What's more worrying than the GDP print itself is that the eurozone PMI took a step down in October, following the stabilization seen in previous months. And, perhaps even more importantly, the weakness in Italy looks striking. The Italian economy stagnated in Q3 according to the flash GDP release, and the PMI points to negative growth early in Q4.

Weak growth in Italy is likely linked to - and risks exacerbating - the ongoing rise in sovereign spreads in the country, given feedback loops on public finances, bank capital positions and financial conditions mo re broadly, and rising pressures on the government to keep the population happy.

Investment implications

A weakening macro picture along with rising political risks in Italy underscores caution in our portfolios, where we remain underweight peripheral sovereigns and European risk assets in general.

Alongside continued low inflation, these developments also suggest that the European Central Bank will struggle to deliver the modest tightening discounted in forward prices for this hiking cycle, which the market currently expects to begin in late 2019. This suggests that high quality European sovereign bonds, i.e. Bunds, continue to offer decent value despite the low level of absolute yields.

Disclosure: All investments contain risk and may lose value. This material is intended for informational purposes only. Forecasts, estimates and certain information contained herein are based upon proprietary research and should not be considered as i nvestment advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form, or referred to in any other publication, without express written permission. PIMCO is a trademark of Allianz Asset Management of America L.P. in the United States and throughout the world. THE NEW NEUTRAL is a trademark of Pacific Investment Management Company LLC in the United States and throughout the world. ©2018, PIMCO

Source: Google News Italy | Netizen 24 Italy