The leader of Italy’s largest opposition party has made an unsavoury joke about London’s first Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan, saying that he would “blow himself up in front of Westminster”.
Beppe Grillo, who is also a comedian, made the remark while he was performing in Padua, Northern Italy.
The leader of the populist Five Star Movement started his comedic act on Saturday by praising Khan’s political achievements and said the new mayor’s success served as “a prime example that one must never stop dreaming”, according to British and Italian media.
But, Grillo then added: “Now I want to see when he blows himself up in front of Westminster”.
— Michael Deibert (@michaelcdeibert) May 15, 2016
Here's your reminder that we have Trumps in Europe too: Beppe Grillo makes a terrorist joke about Sadiq Khan. https://t.co/UwBKOBQthK
— Phil Freeman (@pbffreeman) May 16, 2016
During the show, Grillo also wrongly referred to Khan, who is of Pakistani origin, as “Bangladeshi”.
The comments prompted a backlash on social media, with hundreds of people accusing him of Islamophobia and racism.
People also made comparisons between Grillo and the US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who previously called for halting Muslims entering the US.
The anti-establishment Five Stars Movement was founded by Grillo in 2009, and is now the single largest party in the Lower House and second in the Senate.
Both the voters and the elected representatives of the populist and Eurosceptic group are in the younger age brackets.
In fact, although Grillo himself is 67, his group found most of its voters among the under-30 group.