Italian anti-racism groups warn of rapid increase in attacks
Anti-racist groups in Italy have warned of a dangerous acceleration in attacks on immigrants after 11 shootings, two murders and 32 physical assaults were recorded in the two months since Matteo Salvini, leader of the far-right League party, entered government as interior minister.
Opposition politicians have accused Salvini of creating a climate of hate following the attacks, which have coincided with an anti-migration drive that has included closing Italian ports to NGO rescue boats and a vow to expel non-Italian Roma.
In one incident in July, a 13-month-old Roma girl was shot in the back with an airgun pellet. In at least two recent attacks on immigrants, the perpetrators have allegedly shouted Mr Salvini’s name.
“Propaganda around anti-migrant policies has clearly contributed to creating a climate of hostility and to legitimising racist violence,” said Grazia Naletto, the manager of migration policies and racial discrimination of the Lunaria association, which publishes quarterly reports on the number of racially motivated attacks in Italy.
“We are facing a dangerous acceleration of episodes of violence against migrants,” Naletto said.
The group recorded nine attacks on immigrants between 1 June and 1 August 2017, with no shootings and no deaths – less than a third for same period in 2018.
On Sunday, a Moroccan man in Aprilia, 17 miles outside Rome, was the latest to be killed. He was followed and beaten to death by two young Italians who claimed he was a thief.
Three days earlier, in Vicenza, in the north-east of Italy, a 33-year-old factory worker from Cape Verde was wounded by a single gunshot. The suspect is a 40-year-old Italian who opened fire from a window in his home.
On Thursday night in Naples, Cissè Elhadji Diebel, 22, a street vendor from Senegal with a regular permit of stay, was wounded by a gunshot fired by two people on a scooter.
Two railway porters in Venice who in July beat an unlicensed African porter at the station, allegedly told him: “This is Salvini’s country.” A black Italian athlete, Daisy Osakue, suffered an eye injury when an egg was thrown at her in Turin.
Mr Salvini has claimed “the wave of racism is simply an invention of the left” and in response to rising criticism on Sunday tweeted “many enemies, much honour” – a reference to a quote from Benito Mussolini on what was also the anniversary of the fascist dictator’s birth.
Mr Salvini’s first move when he entered the interior ministry on June 1st was to say: “Good times are over for illegals.”
That same evening, in Rosarno, in the southern province of Reggio Calabria, a bullet struck the head of Soumalia Sacko, a 22-year-old Malian who was rummaging for metal sheets to repair his shack in one of the sprawling encampments that house the thousands of poorly paid immigrants who pick the region’s crops. The suspect is a middle-aged Italian man who was living near the encampment.