Group References Mussolini's Law to Justify Headscarf Ban

September 26, 2004

Source: Al-Jazeerah/The Independent Arab News

On September 26, 2004 The Independent Arab News reported, "Italy’s reputation for religious tolerance was in the balance last week after a ban on Muslim women wearing hijab or the head scarf instigated in a tiny Alpine village began spreading across the country. An Italian woman who converted to Islam nine years ago and took to veiling her face after performing the Haj, the pilgrimage to Makkah, has received two fines from the authorities in the village where she has lived all her life. Sabrina Varroni, 34, converted after marrying her Moroccan husband, with whom she has four children. There are 10 other Muslims in the village, but she is the only [one] who wears the veil. The mayor of Drezzo, the 1,000-strong village near the Swiss border where she lives, has strong views on such practices. A member of the xenophobic and separatist Northern League, Cristian Tolettini found two laws on the books to help him stamp them out: one passed under Mussolini’s fascist rule in 1931, banning the wearing of masks in public, and another dating from 1975, at the height of the Red Brigades scare, forbidding the wearing of items that disguise a person’s identity. And he has instructed local police to enforce them."