Berlusconi defiant over Arab ‘gaffe’

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Series Details Vol.7, No.37, 11.10.01, p1
Publication Date 11/10/2001
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Date: 11/10/01

By David Cronin

Defiant Italian leader Silvio Berlusconi refused to elaborate on his recent claim that the West is "superior" to Arab states during a visit to Brussels yesterday (10 October).

He said that he had already explained to his country's parliament that his remarks were taken out of context.

The billionaire prime minister dismissed a question from one journalist, who asked him to respond to the resignation calls which followed his assertion that "a part of the Islamic world is 1,400 years behind" the West. Stating that he had already dealt with the matter, Berlusconi snapped: "You obviously don't read newspapers and are not informed."

He also defended a controversial new law on use of evidence in criminal trials, which opponents claim is designed to thwart cases against Berlusconi himself. The law, which completed its passage last week, would make it more difficult for courts to accept evidence from abroad.

Berlusconi claimed it was necessary because rules ensuring the validity of evidence had not been followed as closely as they should have been over the past decade.

Commission head Romano Prodi, a former Italian premier himself, declined to comment on Berlusconi's anti-Muslim statements. EU states are "clearly respectful of all religions," said Prodi.

Earlier Berlusconi outlined his country's budget plans to the Commission which he claimed had been "well received".

Report of visit by Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi to Brussels, 10 October 2001. He refused to elaborate on his recent claim that the West is 'superior' to Arab states.

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