Italian right-wing populist Matteo Salvini has suggested that military service for young men may be a solution to combat the rise in street violence witnessed on Italian streets.
The country’s former interior minister made the remarks in a social media post alongside disturbing footage of a thuggish brawl which took place in Milan on Saturday evening.
The viral video, originally posted by the Milano bella da dio social media account, documents a fight which broke out in Lecco, Milan on Jan. 29, a popular district for Milanese nightlife. Around a dozen young males can be seen engaged in street fighting, equipped with bottles and at least one male is holding a knife.
According to the Milanese newspaper Corriere della Sera, the district has been “at the center of controversy in recent months due to noises at night, crowds, fights, vandalism, and decay.”
“Milan, brawl with bottles and knives. A little military service for these guys wouldn’t hurt!” Salvini wrote in response to the footage.
Salvini is not averse to strong criticism of the social decay Milan has experienced in recent times. The League party leader — whose party of course at one time called itself ‘Lega Nord’ and was primarily preoccupied with the political landscape in the north of the country before a national rebrand — has regularly criticized the rise in street violence, homelessness and drug use in the city, as have other members of his party.
In June, local League Party MEP Silvia Sardone lamented the demise of the city, regarding the number of illegal immigrants and vagrants on Milanese streets as an “absolute degradation” equal to that of “the third world.”
“Today, in the shadow of the Madonnina, next to the iconic apéritifs, you can buy doses of drugs and watch furious brawls with throwing of chairs and tables,” Sardone added to her criticism of the city, which has now been run by center-left mayor Giuseppe Sala since 2016.
In September, Salvini tweeted viral footage of a man using a rock to smash up a stationary bus with the caption: “Milan, another precious ‘resource’ maintained at the expense of the Italians.”
And in the city’s New Year’s Eve celebrations, footage was widely shared which purported to show the harassment of two teenage girls by a group of approximately 30 males of foreign origin near the Palazzo Reale in the center of city. The incident saw 18 North African migrants or Italians with a North African background arrested on suspicion of sexual assault on what was believed to be two German tourists and seven other women.