Police at the crime scene in Pisa, Tuscany, where a Moroccan was stabbed and killed by an undocumented Tunisian man with a criminal record. Aug. 7 2022 | Photo: Gabriele Masiero / ANSA
Police at the crime scene in Pisa, Tuscany, where a Moroccan was stabbed and killed by an undocumented Tunisian man with a criminal record. Aug. 7 2022 | Photo: Gabriele Masiero / ANSA

Debate has been sparked in Italy over a perception of growing insecurity after a series of violent incidents involving migrants as both victims and perpetrators. Those on the right are blaming the incidents on the large number of migrant arrivals.

As Italy prepares for the polls, migration has become, once again, a hot topic. Calm seas and the summer weather has seen even more boats apparently attempting the crossing. More than 44,000 migrants have already arrived in Italy since the beginning of the year, as of August 9.

And now, as the papers report a series of violent incidents involving migrants as both victims and perpetrators, a debate has been sparked about a perception of growing insecurity.

Right-wing politicians are trying to say the violence is because of the migrants and that police forces are becoming over-stretched as they are asked to police too many different situations, including those in the hotspots in the south of the country.

Meanwhile those on the left are calling for justice for migrants who have been the victims of violence, and accusing the right-wing of instrumentalizing the incidents for their own political gain.

Also read: Killing of Nigerian highlights political battles as Italy prepares for polls

Reports of rape and violence

On Saturday night and the early hours of Sunday (August 7) morning, it was reported that in Italy's northern town of Como, not far from Milan, a homeless Bulgarian woman was raped after being kicked and punched by a homeless Pakistani man in the city center.

The same night in the city of nearby Milan, also in the Lombardy region, a group of Italians injured a 38-year-old, reportedly of Moroccan descent. The group are alleged to have hit the man in the face and neck using a bottle prior to fleeing.

The man had been on a bus with his wife when an argument began that continued after they all got off the bus. Then the group of young Italians reportedly began beating him.The man's wife called for help for the victim, who suffered trauma to his nose and head.

Fights

On Sunday in Brindisi, in Italy's southeastern region of Puglia, a migrant from Gambia employed in the fields as a day laborer was reportedly injured in a fight that began in a cafe with a 29-year-old from the city, who was also injured.

The 30-year-old Gambian suffered a broken nose. The local African community condemned the attack saying it was "clearly racially motivated [and] brutal."

The president of the local community, Drissa Kone, said "this is not the first time that it has happened here in Brindisi," He added that these kinds of attacks are happening all over Italy and that members of his community are "prepared to take action once again against every form and incidence of violence."

The local police however, delcared the fight started for petty reasons and have stated an investigation is under way.

Stabbed and killed

Also on Sunday, in Pisa, Tuscany in central Italy, a man of Moroccan origins who was working as a hairdresser was stabbed and killed near his shop near the railway station. His attacker handed himself over after a short time to the carabinieri: and is reportedly a Tunisian of around 30 years old already known to the police.

According to reports, the suspected attacker is an undocumented migrant with numerous police reports against him and several deportation orders.

The man has been charged with manslaughter.

League leader Matteo Salvini visits Lampedusa ahead of the Italian elections on September 25 | Photo: David Lohmueller / picture alliance / ASSOCIATED PRESS
League leader Matteo Salvini visits Lampedusa ahead of the Italian elections on September 25 | Photo: David Lohmueller / picture alliance / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Reaction from right-wing politicians

Following this series of violent incidents, Italy's right-wing League party urged a reinstatement of the anti-asylum security decrees with which the leader of the party Matteo Salvini claims to have almost halted migrant boat landings during the time he was interior minister.

Fellow league politician, MP Laura Ravetto, who is head of the party's equal opportunities policy, called the rape of a woman in Como "a terrifying incident that opens a Pandora's box that has long been kept hidden by the left." Ravetto said that what was needed was a focus on "security issues and the problem of invisible migrants." She added that "annulling the decrees brought in by Salvini when he was minister was a serious mistake. Incidents like these are the proof:"

Another League MP from Pisa, Edoardo Ziello said that the murder in Pisa is the "result of the suppression of the security decrees. If they were still in force, we would not have had an immigrant with a criminal record and deportation orders committing crimes in Italy:"

From file: Italian police officers escort migrants onto an airplane in Lampedusa, Italy  | Photo: EPA/Carlo Ferraro
From file: Italian police officers escort migrants onto an airplane in Lampedusa, Italy | Photo: EPA/Carlo Ferraro

Security forces under pressure, says League party

The deputy chief of the League group in the Chamber of Deputies, Alessandro Pagano, decried the unsustainable working conditions for security forces "involved in welcoming migrants and put to the test daily by [the] volumes of migrants not seen before in recent years arriving on Italian coasts."

Pagano went on to criticize what he called "the cavalier policy of 'let's welcome them all' of part of the left" which he said "not only creates inhumane and unliveable conditions in the hotspots, crowded with migrants; it also makes the security forces engage in backbreaking labor."

League MP and Undersecretary for Internal Affairs Nicola Molteni meanwhile put the blame at the feet of what he called "invisible migrants", those who are undocumented or have been issued with a notice to leave the country but have not left.

'A bona fide army of invisibles and ghosts'

"With almost 45,000 migrant landings already recorded, and faced with the total absence of redistribution in Europe despite the much-praised agreement signed June 10 in Luxembourg, the moving of migrants is happening only between Italian regions. We are faced with a bona fide army of invisibles and ghosts," Molteni added.

Italy's current Interior Minister, Luciana Lamorgese, has in recent days hailed the "first concrete steps" towards the enaction of this redistribution mechanism. With Germany and France among the first countries to have visited the reception centers to begin the process of identifying the groups they will accept from Italy.

"This is why," he said, "our priorities call for the strengthening of the police force" and "on the issue of immigration, we will propose once again the security decrees and we will work on a list of safe countries and on bilateral agreements with countries of origin and transit to increase repatriations and deportations."

 

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