The Italian government has moved to block new building regulations for Lombardy which would make it virtually impossible to build any new mosques in the northern region, officials said Friday.

The regulations, which have become known as the "anti-mosque" law, were approved by the right-wing dominated regional council at the end of January.

Amid an outcry over what critics see as a blatantly discriminatory move, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi's centre-left government has decided to refer the new rules to the Constitutional Court for review.

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