Green party MEP's speech branding far-right politician a coward goes viral

PUBLISHED: 18:08 18 July 2019 | UPDATED: 18:25 18 July 2019

Green Party MEP Magid Magid has given an impassioned speech in defence of migration and against Italian strongman Matteo Salvini. Picture: Green Party

Green Party MEP Magid Magid has given an impassioned speech in defence of migration and against Italian strongman Matteo Salvini. Picture: Green Party

Green Party

In a barnstorming speech against the far right at the European parliament, MEP Magid Magid has branded Italian deputy Matteo Salvini a coward for his stance on Mediterranean migration.

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"The future of Europe will be defined by courage or cowardice, by compassion or callousness, by hope or fear," said the Green Party MEP, in a speech in defence of a humanitarian activist Carola Rackete.

Her rescue ship had picked up 40 people from the Mediterranean and broke the Italian coastguard's blockade in order to land them on Italian soil, where she was arrested, and has since become a international cause célèbre. Salvini, a hardline eurosceptic and nationalist, has championed hedetention. But Magid praised Rackete as a "living embodiment of a fairer, kinder Europe".

He went on to brand Salvini a coward, because "what kind of grown man watches a child drowning, gasping for breath, and turns his back?" - words which are likely to have been aimed at unravelling the Italian's carefully cultivated 'strongman' image.

He called Salvini "a coward who boasts about detaining and arresting a lifesaver. A coward who decides to make an enemy of the victims of war and those who are being dispossessed.

"Mr president, Salvini, and all his supporters who I can see here: You are all going to lose. I promise you that," he said.

Those who have courage in their hearts are the ones who will win, said Magid.

The "coward" accusation was greeted by jeers, which according to Magid came in part from Brexit Party MEPs.

Magid has tweeted a video of the speech, which has now been shared over 1,400 times.

Euronews reports that a member of Salvini's League party, MEP Annalisa Tardino, responded: "The truth is that only our government and our minister Matteo Salvini, with great courage, is trying to stop the business of smugglers and illegal migration by saving lives," she said.

Magid Magid, who sought asylum in the UK as a child, campaigned in the EU elections on a Remain and pro-immigration ticket. He has since expressed disillusionment with many aspects of the EU's workings, vowing to work for reform during his time as an MEP.

He made the comments about Salvini ahead of an emergency meeting of European ministers on tackling the migration issue.

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