Don Giacomo Martino during the funeral of Nigerian boy Prince Jerry who committed suicide in Tortona, after he was denied the renewal of his residence permit. The funeral was held in the church of the Annunziata in Genoa, Italy, February 1, 2019 | Photo: ANSA/LUCA ZENNARO
Don Giacomo Martino during the funeral of Nigerian boy Prince Jerry who committed suicide in Tortona, after he was denied the renewal of his residence permit. The funeral was held in the church of the Annunziata in Genoa, Italy, February 1, 2019 | Photo: ANSA/LUCA ZENNARO

An Italian neo-Nazi group has insulted on Facebook Father Giacomo Martino, who is in charge of the Migrants office of Genoa's diocese for his work to help migrants in the port city. The priest responded saying he is ready to meet these "Facebook lions".

The far-right group Azione Frontale (frontal action) has insulted Father Giacomo Martino, a symbol in Genoa for his work to assist migrants, in a post published on Facebook. "Father Martino only thinks about immigrants" Shame!", said the post, in which the priest was also called "dog's vomit" and "bastard", among other insults. 


Father Martino, who is in charge of the migration office of the local diocese, responded saying he is ready "to meet these people", calling them "Facebook lions". He went on to say that "now that we are finally starting to comprehend that all this talk on the immigration crisis is not based on reality, these people are trying to talk to our gut." 

Priest a target for promoting the reopening of hosting center 

The priest has become a target of far-right groups after he accepted the prefecture's request to reopen the First Hosting Center Villa Ines to 50 asylum seekers after associations and cooperatives failed to apply to take part in a tender for the center's management under new rules in the government's security-and-migration decree. 

"The priest - said Azione Fontale's post - on his profile continues his anti-Fascist, and most importantly, anti-Italian politics. A priest should not be politically active and should not earn from immigration, which only benefits those who manage it for a profit. There are many Italian Christians who need concrete help. Just think about fake refugees. No more racism against our own people!", said the post. 

Father Giacomo says Genoa increasingly welcoming 

The scenario in Genoa appears to have changed from two years ago, when a protest was organized against migrants staying at the Multedo center and when Father Martino received threats. "The atmosphere is changing", he said, adding that people understand that anti-immigration rhetoric is used to talk to their "gut" feelings. Solidarity to the priest was expressed by Democratic Party (PD) MP from Liguria Raffaella Paita who demanded the dissolution of neo-Fascist groups and by the League's group in Genoa's city council.
 

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