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The smell of xenophobia

August 7, 2011

A town in northern Italy has sparked outrage among migrants after it passed a ban on the sale of "foul-smelling" foreign foods, especially kebabs.

A kebab, with a sign indicating that it is forbidden
The Middle Eastern favorite has caused a stink in CittadellaImage: picture-alliance/ dpa / DW-Montage

Municipal authorities' decision to ban the sale of kebabs and other "non-traditional" food in a town in northern Italy has raised the ire of local migrants.

"To ban kebabs in Cittadella is like forbidding pizza in Paris or New York," said Abdallah Khezraji, a member of the Consulta Regionale Immigrazione for Italy's Veneto region.

On Friday, the town council of Cittadella passed a law stopping to stop the issue of licenses to vendors wishing to sell kebabs in the medieval walled city in Veneto.

'Protecting tradition'

"This food is certainly not part of our tradition and of our identity," said Mayor Massimo Bitonci of the anti-immigration Northern League party, which shares power in Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's ruling coalition.

Bitonci said kebabs were "not suited to our historic center [because of] the way in which the foods are eaten, the smell they give off."

He also justified the ban on health grounds, saying the ordinance targeted "dishes cooked and then left in the open for a long time."

Increasingly popular

Kebabs - a skewered meat dish often served wrapped in bread - originate in the Middle East but have in recent years become increasingly popular in Italy and can be found in cities across Europe.

Bitonci already made headlines in 2009 for controversial measures against beggars and street vendors, as well as his parking restrictions against caravans - a bid to keep out transient communities.

Author: David Levitz (AFP, dpa)

Editor: Sean Sinico

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