Malcolm Moore in Rome
The new mayor of Rome promised yesterday to purge the Italian capital of 20,000 illegal immigrants and to raze 85 Roma Gypsy camps.
Gianni Alemanno (50) a firebrand neo-fascist and the first rightwing mayor of the city since the Second World War, vowed to make Rome "secure" as he was sworn into office after his election at the weekend.
In a sign of things to come, after Mr Alemanno's election, newly-elected Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi declared: "We are the new Falange."
The original Falange (or Phalanx) was the Spanish fascist party, founded in the 1930s, whose doctrine was adopted by General Franco.
Mr Alemanno's election was also celebrated by hundreds of supporters chanting "Duce! Duce!" and raising their arms in Mussolini's Fascist salute.
The new mayor said his first action would be to begin "immediate expulsions" of the 20,000 immigrants in the city with criminal records.
"We cannot welcome them without discipline," he said. "We will chase out the delinquents. There are 85 abusive nomad camps to destroy."
Many in Italy have been sickened by a spate of violent crimes committed by immigrants, including the case of Giovanna Reggiani (47) who was beaten, raped and killed by a Romanian immigrant who lived in a Roma camp last November.
Mr Alemanno said he would visit Mrs Reggiani's husband.
"I want to promise him that what happened his wife will never happen again," he said.
Mr Alemanno was the youth leader of the fascist Italian Social Movement and wears a Celtic cross, a symbol of the extreme Right. He promised to be a mayor for all, however, and sent letters to the Vatican and Rome's Jewish community.
Graziano Halilovic, a spokesman for one of Rome's biggest settlements of Roma gypsies, said the Roma community was scared for its future.
"We fear there will be night-time raids on the camps."
Umberto Bossi, leader of the Northern League Party, which will form a new government with Mr Berlusconi, said immigrants had to be hunted out. "We have no fear of taking things to the piazzas. We have 300,000 martyrs ready to come down from the mountains. Our rifles are always smoking," he added. (© Daily Telegraph, London)