British newspaper ranks Naples alongside Raqqa in ‘dangerous cities’ list

British newspaper The Sun labelled Naples as one of the world's ten most dangerous cities, alongside Isis-occupied Raqqa in Syria.

British newspaper ranks Naples alongside Raqqa in 'dangerous cities' list
A view over Naples in Campania. File photo: LisovS/Depositphotos

Under the caption 'Bad World', the headline said the newspaper had revealed the world's ten most dangerous cities, “from drug cartel run hellholes to war-ravaged cities where headchopping ISIS fanatics run wild”.

Naples was the only Western European city mentioned in the article, alongside Kiev, Somalian capital Mogadishu, Perth in Australia and St Louis in the United States.

“Mafia killings are common place in Naples [sic]” wrote Sun contributor Guy Birchall.

The article didn't include references to any data or statistics, but used six categories to judge the 'danger level' of the cities: terrorism, human rights, riots, murder, gangs, drugs. The latter three categories were problems in Naples, according to Birchall.

Naples mayor Luigi De Magistris said the report from The Sun was “laughable”.

“It is a false, superficial judgement, from someone who has evidently never spent a day of his life in Naples, a city full of problems but certainly not in the place in the world rankings where the Sun puts it,” he added.

And the Italian Embassy in London noted that the city is not included in any official index of the most dangerous cities in the world. “The Sun must have had a sun stroke… confusing fiction with reality when it listed the city,” wrote the embassy in a statement accompanied by the hashtag '#FakeNews'.

It is true that the Camorra crime syndicate continues to have a hold over the city. Many of the city's notorious bosses have been imprisoned, but the rise of a younger generation of clan leaders has had unintended consequences, with several shootouts in the city.

These have affected innocent bystanders as well as members of rival groups; in January 2017, a ten-year-old girl got caught up in one shooting. The number of murders reported in the city saw an increase over the past 12 months to 77, 38 of which were linked to organized crime, according to a report in the Corriere del Mezzogiorno.

READ MORE: Young guns take charge of mafia clans – with deadly results

But similar increases in violent gang-related crime have been seen across Europe, including in London, where statistics from London Metropolitan Police showed a 14 percent rise in the murder rate in the English capital and a surge in gun and knife crime over the past 12 months. 

And statistics show that Neapolitans report fewer crimes than residents of many other large Italian cities – particularly the kinds of crimes likely to affect tourists. In 2016, figures from the Interior Ministry showed that a total of 4,397 crimes reported per 100,000 inhabitants – a smaller proportion than in Rome and Milan.

The city saw a year-on-year increase in pickpocketing of 11 percent, bucking the nationwide trend of a decline in such crimes, but despite this, pickpocketing was most common in the north, with Rimini, Bologna, and Milan home to the most light-fingered thieves.

In spring this year, mayor De Magistris announced the launch of an online platform aimed at combatting 'fake news' and rumours about Naples, which has gained a reputation for violence thanks to films and TV series such as Gomorrah.

The Difendi La Citta (Defend the city) initiative invited residents to report those who defamed the Campanian capital, with city authorities promise to use any money gained in damages to improve public services.

At the time, several regular visitors or expats in the southern city told The Local it didn't deserve its dangerous reputation.

“I'd always heard Naples was very dangerous for tourists, and as a gay married couple we had also heard it was an intolerant city,” said Rob Vance from San Francisco, who has visited Italy each year since 2007. “But we felt comfortable everywhere we went and have told all our friends and family to visit too.”

READ ALSO: How I fell in love with Naples: a city full of contrasts



Italy’s government proposes bill to make surrogacy a ‘universal crime’

Italy’s parliament is set to debate a bill that would expand criminal penalties for the use of surrogacy, in what opponents say is part of a broader attack on gay rights by the country’s hard-right government.

Italy's government proposes bill to make surrogacy a 'universal crime'

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni is lead signatory on the new bill, which would make surrogacy – already a crime in Italy – a criminal act for Italians who make use of the practice anywhere in the world.

The motion combines previous draft laws from the ruling Brothers of Italy, Forza Italia and League parties, and will be debated in the lower house from Wednesday, according to news agency Ansa.

The move comes days after the government ordered the city of Milan to stop issuing birth certificates to the children of same-sex couples on the grounds that the practice violates Italian law.

READ ALSO: Milan stops recognising children born to same-sex couples

Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has long been outspoken against surrogacy, which she has described as “a commodification of women’s bodies and of human life.”

In a heated parliamentary debate on the rights of same sex couples on Monday, her Brothers of Italy colleague Federico Mollicone, chair of the lower house’s Culture Committee, said surrogacy was “more serious than paedophilia.”

Similar comments were made in 2017 by a minister of the now-defunct New Centre Right party, who likened entering into a surrogacy arrangement to committing a sex crime.

READ ALSO: ‘Surrogacy is like a sex crime’: Italy minister

In early 2022, as leader of the Brothers of Italy party in opposition to Mario Draghi’s coalition government, Meloni put forward the same motion to make surrogacy a “universal crime”.

The text was adopted by the Justice Committee of the former legislature – a preliminary step before it can be debated in the lower house – last April, but did not go further at the time.

The crime of surrogacy in Italy is currently punishable with a prison sentence of over three years or a fine of between 600,000 and one million euros; penalties that the government is proposing to extend to all Italian citizens who engage in the practice, regardless of where it occurs.

Whether such a law would even be possible to pass or enforce is unclear, and legal experts have dismissed it as impractical. 

“There are no conditions that would justify an expansion of penal intervention of this type,” Marco Pelissero, a professor of criminal law at the University of Turin, told L’Espresso newspaper.

The idea of a universal crime “does not even exist in the legal language,” he said.

But the proposal has aroused fears that, if passed, the law could result in large numbers of same-sex parents whose children were born via surrogates being sent to prison.

“With this law we would be exposing families with young children to criminal law, quite simply criminalising procreative choices made abroad in countries where these practices are regulated,” Angelo Schillaci, a professor of Comparative Public Law at La Sapienza University, told the news site Fanpage.

‘We are aware of how hard this government is working to strip even the most basic rights from same-sex-parent families,” Alessia Crocini, head of the Rainbow Families organisation, said last week when it was first announced that Milan had been banned from registering the children of gay couples.

The move resulted in large-scale protests across the city on Saturday, and Milan Mayor Beppe Sala has pledged to fight the change.

“It is an obvious step backwards from a political and social point of view,” he said in a recent podcast interview.

On Tuesday, European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders commented that European Union member states are required by EU law to recognise the children of same-sex couples.

“In line with the LGBTIQ equality strategy for 2020-2025, the Commission is in continuous dialogue with Member States regarding the implementation of the judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Union.”

“This also includes the obligation for Member States to recognise” children “of same-sex parents, for the purpose of exercising the rights conferred by the EU”, Reynders reportedly said in response to question about the developments in Milan.