The prime minister of Italy, with President Obama at his side, downplayed reports Friday that Christian migrants were targeted for death by Muslims who threw them overboard and drowned them in the Mediterranean Sea during a recent crossing from Libya.
At a joint White House press conference, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said in response to a reporter’s question that there is “not [a] problem of clash of religions in Italy.” Mr. Renzi portrayed the problem as a lack of stability in Libya that is prompting illegal immigration to Italy.
“The problem is not a problem of clash of religions,” Mr. Renzi said through an interpreter. “It’s a problem of human dignity. We are absolutely committed to solve this problem, and I am confident if this become a priority …”
The U.S. reporter who asked the question directed it at Mr. Renzi. Mr. Obama, who sometimes offers answers to questions posed to his foreign counterparts at joint press conferences, remained silent on the subject.
Police in Sicily reported Thursday that Muslim migrants had thrown 12 Christians overboard during a recent crossing from Libya.