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Italy Doesn’t Protect Minorities

March 21, 2011

When I think of Italy, I conjure up images of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, gondolas flowing through the canals of Venice, Ferrari, Leonardo, Michelangelo, the Sistine Chapel and pizza. Now I can add “ignoring racially motivated attacks against minorities” to the list. It appears there were “142 hate crimes in the first nine months of 2009, but one Italian anti-racism organization registered 398 media reports of such crimes in roughly the same period, with 186 physical assaults (18 of which led to death).”

Cities across Italy have seen mob violence and individual attacks targeting migrants, Roma, and Italians of foreign descent. Mobs rampaged through Roma camps in Naples in May 2008 and assaulted African seasonal migrant workers in Rosarno, Calabria, in January 2010. A group of at least 15 people attacked a Bengali bar in Rome in March 2010.

Further attacks include:

The September 2008 murder of Abdoul Guiebre, an Italian of Burkina Faso origin bludgeoned to death on the street in Milan after a petty theft from a café; the brutal beating of a Chinese man in October 2008 as he waited for a bus in Rome; and the February 2009 attack on an Indian man in a town outside Rome, in which he was beaten, doused with gasoline, and set on fire.”

So how does the Italian government respond to these attacks? It “likes to pretend that racist violence hardly ever happens.” So essentially, the government, rather than addressing the issue, would rather sweep the problems under a rug, hoping the violence will quell itself.

Instead of continuing to bury its head in the sand about this issue, the Italian government should do, oh I don’t know, something more practical such as “strengthen[ing] its response to racist violence” per the recommended guidelines Human Rights Watch mentions.

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