Italy: Moroccan beaten to death, athlete of Nigerian origin attacked as fascists in the Govt spread racism
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, the boss of the anti-immigrant Lega party, is facing criticism from opposition politicians for creating a hateful atmosphere in the country. In recent days Italy has witnessed a series of attacks with apparently racist motivations including Monday's attack on Daisy Osakue, an Italian athlete of Nigerian origin.
The Associated Press is also highlighting the case of the 13-month-old Romani girl in an intensive care unit with a damaged lung after she was shot by a projectile in the arms of her mother on a street in Rome. Police discovered an Italian man had fired an air rifle from his balcony and the projectile struck the infant.
The man in question has denied that he was aiming at the Romani people. As for Osakue, the 22-year-old discus thrower was targeted for assault near the northern city of Turin.
As the athlete was walking to her home, unidentified attackers drove past throwing eggs that ended up damaging one of her corneas. "I'm sorry to have to say this, but I believe this case was one of racism," the athlete declared.
"I believe they were on the lookout for somebody of a different skin color, a woman," the athlete said. "Prostitutes work in that area. I believe they considered me one of them."
The discus thrower spent several months recently in the state of Texas in the USA where she is studying criminal law in addition to training in her sport. In an interview with the BBC she said she has the feeling that she had come home to a "different Italy."
The new Italian Government created by Lega and the populist Five Star Movement (M5s) took power in June and is applying an uncompromisingly anti- immigrant policy. Among other matters, authorities are refusing to allow boats with migrants on board to dock and are attempting to limit their arrival to the country as much as possible.
Salvini has also ordered that services for asylum-seekers be limited to the bare minimum in Italy. Osakue, who was born in Italy, is meant to be a member of the Italian representation at the European Athletics Championship next week in Berlin, Germany.
Doctors said that Osakue will need several days of rest to recover from her injury but that she will be healed by the time of the Championship. The Italian Police have cast doubt on whether the black athlete was the victim of a crime motivated by racism.
Police officers have pointed out that in that same locality similar assaults have been committed before against white people. The political opposition, however, sees the matter differently.
"Attacks against people of color are currently an urgent problem in Italy," tweeted the former center-left PM, Matteo Renzi. "It is absolutely clear, nobody can deny it, especially not those sitting in Government."
Over the weekend a Moroccan man who was suspected by local residents of a village south of Rome to be a robber died as the result of a car chase. After the man crashed his vehicle, his pursuers subsequently beat him up and he succumbed to his injuries in hospital, according to The Local.
That online daily also reported on an incident from Palermo, Sicily, where last week a group of youths beat up a 19-year-old immigrant from Senegal while racially abusing him. Salvini, has rejected Renzi's claims that racism is an urgent problem in Italy, calling the former PM's remark "absurd".
Salvini then emphasized the contribution made by immigrants to crime in the country. "Every day immigrants commit about 700 crimes in Italy, which means one-third of the total number. That is the urgent problem I am combating as minister," he said.
That allegation sparked indignation from left-wing parties. "All who deny racism is growing in our country are accomplices to it," tweeted the head of the previously-governing, left-wing Democratic Party, Maurizio Martina.
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