Italian politicians and the media have been upset at the treatment meted out to their Commissioner, Rocco Buttiglione, described in a previous blog. There have been all kinds of rows with those on the left maintaining that this is the direct result of Prime Minister Berlusconi’s somewhat belligerent attitude to the rest of Europe and, for that matter, the world.
Those on the right, on the other hand, see the whole row as an attack on Italy and on values that are reasonably close to those held by a very large number of people in that country, certainly by most members of the Catholic Church. Nor are Italians too keen on the notion of upstart MEPs attacking the man, known as “the Philosopher” because of this academic background.
The most apposite comment was made by the Justice Minister Roberto Castelli:
“This decision shows the real face of Europe, a face which we don't like. It's fundamentalist, which is absolutely not on.”
True. It also shows a somewhat cavalier attitude to the ideas of free speech and free opinion, ideas that are, supposedly, part of the European values, the EU boasts of upholding and promulgating. Clearly the European Parliament is no more in favour of these outdated notions than the London Assembly. Is that a coincidence?