Two leading members of Italy's Northern League Party have defended the logic behind Anders Behring Breivik's Oslo massacre.
Italian parliamentarians Mario Borghezio and Francesco Speroni both said publicly that Breivik's opinion of Islam is not far from the truth.
On Friday, Breivik committed two attacks on the city of Oslo, Norway, killing 76 people in a downtown bombing and an island shooting spree. The 32 year-old told police that he was fighting a European war of independence. Breivik believes that there is a joint Marxist-Muslim conspiracy to turn Europe into "Eurabia," a term frequently used be Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci.
“Some of the ideas he expressed are good, barring the violence," MEP Borghezio told Il Sole-24 Ore radio station. "Some of them are great.”
“[Breivik's] opposition to Islam and his explicit accusation that Europe has surrendered before putting up a fight against its Islamisation,” are valid and commendable points for Borghezio, the BBC quotes him as saying.
The Norwegian terrorist stated in his manifesto "2083" that Islamic immigration into Europe needs to be stopped completely. Breivik was a drastically far-right Christian extremist who believed he was purifying Europe.
“If [Breivik's] ideas are that we are going towards Eurabia and those sorts of things, that western Christian civilization needs to be defended, yes, I’m in agreement,” said Speroni in a separate interview with the radio station.
Opposition leaders, as well as many Italians, were outraged by the comments.
“The statements by the League’s Euro MP are very serious and they represent an offence to both Norway and the whole of Europe. The European Parliament should censure him immediately,” stated Green Party chief Angelo Bonelli.
The politicians' Northern League colleagues cringed at the remarks. The far-right party is part of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's People of Freedom political coalition, which has been falling in popularity recently, as its leader continues to face allegations ranging from corruption to solicitation of a minor.
“I issue an official apology to Norway and above all to the relatives of the victims for the outrageous and unacceptable reflections expressed in a personal capacity by the honourable Mr Borghezio,” said Northern League cabinet minister Roberto Calderoli.
Many members of Italian parliament and press are calling for the resignation of both men over the remarks. But while Breivik's actions were unimaginably terrible, should the two politicians be stripped of their post?
These two Italian figureheads are allowed their own opinions. They are in the public spotlight, but that doesn't mean that the public does, or has to, agree with them. The Northern League -- which promotes the secession of the Po Valley region from the rest of Italy -- has not tried to hide its xenophobic views, and it shouldn't, no matter how despicable the views are.
Ironically, Breivik felt that free speech was being corrupted and that political correctness was a Marxist plot.
The thing about politicians is that the unpopular and controversial ones can be removed rather easily -- if people don't vote for them. They were expressing their opinions, one shared by their supporters (who like to dress as crusaders) before the Friday attacks.
In the end, no matter how distasteful -- and paranoid -- the comments were, Borghezio was right about one thing.
"You have to have balls to take up certain positions," he said.