“We are against Islam!”: The Lega Nord and the Islamic folk devil

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Testa, A ; Armstrong, G (2012)
  • Publisher: Sage publications
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.1177/2158244012467023
  • Subject: soziale Probleme | Ausländerfeindlichkeit | soziale Kontrolle | politische Rechte | populism | Muslim | Social problems and services | politische Willensbildung, politische Soziologie, politische Kultur | Moral panic | Social Problems | Soziale Probleme und Sozialdienste | politische Ideologie | Feindbild | Islam | Folk devil | Italien | prejudice | Kollektivverhalten | Vorurteil | Italy | xenophobia | sociologyofdeviance | Immigration | Law | Criminology | propaganda | Islamophobia | Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture | mass media | Populismus | Massenmedien | political ideology | social control | image of the enemy | collective behavior | Political science | political right | Stereotyp | Lega Nord | Islamophobia [Lega Nord; moral panic] | Criminal-justice | 10200 | stereotype | Einwanderung | Politikwissenschaft | 10500

© 2012 the Author(s). This article has been published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. Without requesting permission from the Author or SAGE, you may further copy, distribute, transmit, and adapt the article, with the condition that the Author and SAGE Open are in each case credited as the source of the article. Since 1995, the Italian Lega Nord (LN) political party has depicted itself as the defender of Padania, a territory that covers the mainly affluent regions of Northern Italy. Around this politico-spatial territory, the LN has shaped an identity based on the notion of Popolo Padano (the Padanian People). Since the new millennium, LN rhetoric has increasingly focused—stemming more from the demands of realpolitik than those of conviction—on opposing irregular immigration per se and, more specifically, Islam and Muslim immigration. In the eyes of the LN propagandists and their media, the theology of Islam and its practitioners represent a growing threat to the modern Italian and Padanian identity (and tradition). The LN has not been alone in using the media to oppose Islam; the Italian media has reinforced LN messages; Muslims are generally depicted as dangerous and compared with terrorists and their religion and culture are described as the opposite of Italian/West values. Something approximating to a “moral panic” around this issue has ensued. Integral to this are notions of morality combined with practices of moral entrepreneurship. What follows seeks to highlight the LN’s stereotypical depictions of Islam. This evaluation is important because the LN was a major player in former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s government (2008-2011) and is still a significant party among the Italian political spectrum. Integral to what follows are the following questions: “Is contemporary Islamic immigration a threat to the Italian (and Padanian) way of life?” and “Are the perceived threats to be found in the periodic uncertainties that societies suffer or might we need to search for wider processes?”
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