An Italian church sexton originally from Burundi was reportedly beaten up by a man who called him the n-word and told him to "go back to his country."
Deodatus Nduwimana was attacked on Sunday at around 3 PM at the Santa Maria Assunta church in Gallarate, a small town near Milan. He was beaten to the point of dislocating his shoulder. The man who attacked the sexton allegedly told him to ''go back to his country."
Nduwimana is originally from Burundi but became an Italian citizen four years ago. He has taken care of the Santa Maria Assunta church for the past 20 years.
The man who attacked him reportedly has a long criminal record and psychological problems linked to alcohol and drug use. He allegedly previously called the church official a ''n*****."
'I am afraid for my life'
''I was going to open the church,'' Nduwimana said. ''He was there as always and pushed me after insulting me. I am afraid for my life. This person is always in the square. He does nothing all day and he targeted me.''
The police were called and an ambulance took the sexton to the hospital.
On Monday he went to the police station to file an official complaint.
Dioceses and parishes show solidarity
The police are conducting an investigation. Possible charges against the attacker include bodily harm with the aggravating circumstance of being racially motivated.
The head of the church office, Alberti Vitali expressed his solidarity with the victim in Facebook posts, saying that ''despite what it currently seems, maliciousness, violence, ignorance and stupidity will not prevail.''
In Gallarate, where the attack occured, migration and racism have been hotly debated topics recently.
The town's mayor - who belongs to the anti-migrant League party of Matteo Salvini - made headlines nationwide after he wrongly accused a migrant of a crime. In a social media post, Andrea Cassani called for a Tunisian accused of setting fire to a car to be sent back to his home country "with kicks up his backside." The Tunisian was found to be the owner of the car, which had been set on fire by an Italian. Cassani subsequently apologized.
Meanwhile, Democratic Party (PD) councillor Fabrizio Ciuffardi sparked outrage when he posted (and later deleted) that he hoped anyone against the disembarking of the Open Arms migrant rescue ship would get cancer on social media.