Roberto Calderoli is the minister in the cabinet of of Silvio Berlusconi who has just been forced out of office for taking his short off on Italian television, revealing a tee shirt with a Muhammad cartoon on it. He is from the Northern League (Lega Nord) which takes a fairly hard line on immigration and terror issues. An article from Italian news agency AGI brings us his official statement"
It has never been my intention to offend the Muslim religion or to be pretext to yesterday's violence. I do not intend to allow the embarrassing exploitation against me and the Lega Nord even from members of the majority: for these reasons that I return my constitutional reform minister mandate to Berlusconi, out of a sense of responsibility and not because requested to do so by both the majority and the opposition".
"Over the last two weeks", said Calderoli, "we have witnessed unprecedented violence in many Muslim countries against western representative offices, culminating with the killing of a priest and the massacre of nuns and civilians guilty only of following a non—Islamic religion". This "real attack against the West is very worrying to me", stressed Calderoli, "and should be a concern to all those responsible for managing peace among different cultures. Over the last few days I expressed my solidarity with the victims of this blind fanatic religious violence and for this both myself and the Lega North are being accused". Although resigned, Calderoli does "not intend to completely renounce the battle to assert the values I believe in, values handed down to me from my parents and my grandparents and teachings of the Christian religion and of being a free man". In conclusion, "Despite the death threats I will continue to fight for these values and I ask that the CDL program makes recognition of Christian roots in Europe a priority, that must prevail over any economic interests that do not take into consideration human rights liberty".
Eric Schwappach 2 19 06