Racism makes it to the Italian polls

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The foreseeable victory of the right-wing parties in Sunday’s parliamentary elections, with a very hard line against immigration, could make life difficult for foreigners

Some plastic flowers, a sad electric candle and a small paper plate on which you can barely read her name remind Alika Ogorchukwu of the place where she was murdered. They are placed in the planter of a tree in front of number 40 Corso Umberto I, the main shopping street of Civitanova Marche, a small town in central Italy, located on the shores of the Adriatic Sea. It is one of those quiet, clean and tidy cities that German and Austrian tourists travel to in search of sun, beach and the beauty of the Italian countryside. It also attracts immigrants trying to earn a living, such as Alika, who sold scarves and other trinkets in the early afternoon of July 29 when she had the misfortune to run into Filippo Berlazzo and his girlfriend Elena.

“Ciao, bella,” this Nigerian immigrant said to the woman who tried to persuade her to give him some change. Berlazzo didn’t like it and responded by throwing himself at him. He tore the crutch Alika used to help herself walk after she had an accident and started beating her until it knocked her to the ground. Once immobilized, he continued to attack him until he choked. Pedestrians passing through Corso Umberto I at that hour called the police, but they did not dare to separate the two men. However, there were several people who took out their cell phones to record the attack. The video, reminiscent of the murder of George Floyd in the United States at the hands of a police officer, didn’t make it to the media for long, though the matter was quickly forgotten in a summer marked by the election campaign ahead of Sunday’s election. .

The polls predict a victory for the conservative bloc that includes Fratelli d’Italia (FdI, Brothers of Italy) and the League, two parties advocating a strong hand against illegal immigration and promising to end the supply of foreigners who crossing the Sicilian Channel from North Africa. The statements on this subject by Giorgia Meloni and Matteo Salvini, which sometimes border on xenophobia, disturb Fulvio Vassallo Paleologo, professor of the Right to Asylum at the University of Palermo. “When there is finally a new right-wing government, this Italian-style sovereignty will develop, with laws making it difficult to access humanitarian protection and arrival at ports, leaving immigrants in the central Mediterranean, sent back to the north. Africa or sentenced to clandestine exploitation”.

The foreseeable revival of migratory flows resulting from the effects of the war in Ukraine and its possible criminalization by a new executive power has led Vassallo Paleologo to fear that there will be “an increase in racism” in Italy. Racial hate crimes are no longer uncommon in Marche, the region where Alika was murdered and where a ‘skinhead’ left six immigrants injured in the town of Macerata in 2018. He explained that he started shooting at all the blacks he discovered out of anger caused by the death of a young Italian woman at the hands of a Nigerian.

Alika’s widow, Charity, doesn’t want to get wet when asked if her husband’s murder was motivated by racial hatred. “It must be Filippo who says whether he behaved like this because of racism or for some other reason,” he replies, referring to the aggressor. “I have been in Italy for 20 years and I have always felt that people treated me well”. Sitting on the sofa in the humble flat where the Ogorchukwu family lives in San Severino Marche, a town just under an hour’s drive from Civitanova Marche, the woman demands justice, saying in a broken voice that her husband’s murder made her “a heavy weight”. “on the heart.

“They killed Alika for nothing. I can’t get it out of my head. When I close my eyes I can’t sleep and I think about him all the time,” Charity says through tears. “My son can’t sleep either. He is 8 years old. He always asks me where his father is. I cannot accept that Filippo spends a few years in prison and then is released. He must pay for what he has done.”

Alika’s widow cannot explain why no one intervened to stop the attack, even though it took place in broad daylight on a busy street. “Nobody helped him, but people took the cellphone to record everything, like it was a wrestling show. If someone had acted, my husband would still be alive,” she wails while looking at her wedding photos. Francesco Mantella, lawyer for the Ogorchukwu family, explains that the aggressor claimed to be suffering from mental health problems, for which he has undergone a psychiatric examination , the results of which are not yet known.

“The motivation for his gesture, clear and fierce to the end, is not understood: four minutes of aggression that had to end his life. There was no provocation,” says Mantella, who hopes that psychiatric expertise and the trial will be known. whether there was a racist motivation. “It’s something that can’t be ruled out.”

Source: La Verdad

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