After the exchange, support for Greco came flooding in. Culture Minister Dario Franceschini expressed his support for the director on Twitter, saying: “We called skilled and independent people with international experience, such as #ChristianGreco, to direct Italian museums. The right threatens to kick them out because they don’t obey. It’s true a leopard can’t change his spots.” The museum board had also backed the director, stating their “solidarity and full support for the management of the institution and the cultural operations conducted since his appointment.”

The row over discounts to Arabic speakers highlights rising anti-immigrant sentiments in Italy. The country has borne the brunt of Europe refugee crisis over the last three years—a fact that has bolstered anti-immigrant populists. Immigration remains the most contentious issue in the upcoming elections, with even the center-right now accused of fanning the “flames of racism.”

The tension has reached boiling point. Earlier this month, a gunman, who had an Italian flag wrapped around his neck when he was detained, carried out a drive-by shooting spree that targeted African immigrants. All six people who were wounded survived the attack. Following the incident, thousands of people demonstrated in central Italian town of Macerata to protest against racism and fascism.

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