13 Ottobre 2018

Salvini orders Asian stores to shut early

Italy’ s populist government plans to make late-opening Asian grocery stores shut by 9pm, claiming that they are hubs of crime and antisocial behaviour. Matteo Salvini, the deputy prime minister, proposed the action on “those little ethnic shops”, claiming that they were “meeting places for drunks, drug dealers at night, people who make a racket”. Italy has had a proliferation of grocery store openings by Asians, often Bangladeshis, in the past decade, offering late-night shopping for the first time. Numerous shopkeepers have been assaulted in Rome by gangs of neo-fascists who roam the streets on so-called Bangla-tours. Mr Salvini said that closing stores at 9pm was “not an initiative against foreign shops, it is against the irregularities and abuses of some shops, almost all of which are managed by foreigners, which attract troublemakers”. He added: “Just as I have one near my house, I am sure you have one near your house. There are people who drink beer and whisky until 3am, make a noise, urinate and defecate.” Monica Cirinna, a senator with the opposition Democratic Party, said the move evoked the singling out of Jewish stores in Nazi Germany. “If shops are labelled by their ethnicity, when will Salvini order yellow stars on windows?” she said. “There is a name for this: fascism.” Mauro Busconi, head of the retailer’ s association, Confesercenti, said: “You can’ t make a rule which discriminates against certain entrepreneurs over others.” The consumer group Codacons said that Asian-owned stores were allowing Italians to do “last-minute shopping” given that Italian shops observed strict opening hours. Carlo Rienzi, its president, said there was a downside, however, pointing out how the spread of neon-lit grocery stores had invaded historic city centres, driving out traditional artisanal shops. “The presence of these shops damages the artistic beauty in cities like Rome, where some streets in the centre have turned into souks,” he said.

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