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Thou shalt not take the Lord's name in vain: Italian town to issue €400 blasphemy fines

• https://www.telegraph.co.uk

A northern Italian town has had enough of people taking the Lord's name in vain and those who do will be fined up to €400 (£360) for blasphemy.

The city council of Saonara, a town with 10,000 inhabitants just outside Padua, has introduced a new law making it illegal "to blaspheme against any faith or religion" and utter foul language in public.

The mayor, Walter Stefan, said the move was designed to get rid of uncivilised behaviour and promote public decency.

"Blasphemy is offensive, it offends me," Mr Stefan told The Telegraph on Friday.

"With this law you will not be able to cause offence to any religion, we have to respect the faithful."

The mayor, a practicing Catholic, said it was not designed to protect only Christianity, but all faiths. "It is valid for Allah, Buddha or Mohammad," he said.

The blasphemy ban is part of a far-reaching local law aimed at tackling uncivil behaviour. It includes 75 articles with hefty sanctions for those who mow the lawn outside designated hours, walk their dog without a leash or dump their rubbish in public places.

"We have taken a series of measures to contain all those uncivilised activities that make coexistence difficult," Mr Stefan said.

"It will no longer be possible to cut the lawn at certain times, dogs must be kept on a leash and those who are blasphemous will pay the consequences.

"We want to send a message that incorrect behaviour will no longer be tolerated."

Mr Stefan, a father of three, is not aligned with any major political party and has been mayor of the town since 2012. He was re-elected in 2017 with 52.2 percent of the vote.

He said flyers in four languages, including Chinese and Romanian, would be sent to residents in September to inform them about the new fines.

"There may be bigger problems around but we can't consider civility banal," he said. "If we let this go, young people will become louts.

"We want to create a courteous community and behaviour that prevents conflict."

Omero Badon, a local councillor from the Five Star Movement, said he supported the law but did not know if the fines would be enough to improve behaviour, especially that of young people, in the community.


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