Italy: Mohammed called a 'paedophile' in TV spat
Milan, 9 Nov. (AKI) - Italian feminist and former far right-wing MP Daniela Santanche has sparked a controversy after calling the Prophet Mohammed a "a polygamist and paedophile" during a TV debate. Santanche appeared on a television programme aired on the commercial channel, Canale 5 with the president of Milan's Islamic centre, Ali Abu Schwaima, on Sunday.
"Mohammed was a polygamist and a paedophile because he had nine wives, one of whom was only nine years old, that is a historical fact," said Santanche.
A former MP for the post-fascist National Alliance party, Santanche now leads the far-right La Destra party.
Her remark incensed Schwaima and Muslims in the audience, who had been invited to take part in a debate on the contentious issue of placing crucifixes in Italian classrooms after last week's ban by the European Court of Human Rights.
"Why don't we talk about serious things, not about your disgusting comments," he shouted at Santanche.
Santanche continued to shout back: "For us, Mohammed was a paedophile."
"You're just showing the ignorance of people like you who have no other arguments to use," bellowed Schwaima, jabbing his finger at her.
He claimed the crucifix should not be removed from classrooms in Italy.
"For us, Christ was one of the five main prophets and we respect him, like the crucifix."
But Santanche was not appeased by Schwaima's remark.
"We will never listen to Mohammed, who was a polygamist and a paedophile," screeched Santanche.
Studio ushers were seen physically restraining an irate, bearded member of the audience from lunging at her.
"I and my staff dissociate ourselves from these comments, which are offensive to Islam," Domenica Cinque's presenter, Barbara D'Urso, said in a statement issued after the programme.
A former MP for the post-fascist National Alliance party, Santanche ran for the lower house of parliament on the far-right La Destra list in last year's general election.
But the party failed to reach the 4 percent threshold required for election to the parliament.
Santanche was last year among rightwing protesters who opposed the conversion of a former velodrome into a mosque in Milan.
She opposes Muslim women wearing the veil in Italy and has called for a referendum to reopen the country's brothels.
Aisha was believed to be nine-years-old at the time of her marriage to Mohammed.
Child marriages such as Aisha's were relatively common in Bedouin societies at the time of the prophet and remain so in countries such as Yemen and Saudi Arabia among others.