Xenophobia Rages Through Italy

Tuscany, Italy

You can probably find examples of this all throughout Europe, but this story from Italy really highlights the problem of xenophobia:

The message blaring out of the speakers on the van was stark: “Any black person who is hiding in Rosarno should get out. If we catch you, we will kill you.”

Abdul Rashid Muhammad Mahmoud Iddris got out.

He’s one of hundreds — perhaps thousands — of African migrants taken by bus out of the Italian town over the weekend after violent demonstrations shook southern Italy.

The unrest was among the worst of its kind in recent Italian history, said a spokesman for the International Organization for Migration.

“We have not witnessed such protests in a long time,” said Flavio Di Giacomo. “There were several thousand, but I don’t know exactly how many people were involved.”

Interior Minister Roberto Maroni got involved Friday, declaring an “immigration emergency” and forming a task force under the authority of regional police to guarantee public order.

It was the shooting of an Africanmigrant that sparked two days of protests, Iddris told CNN by telephone from Italy. He said the shooting was unprovoked. Police said they were investigating the circumstances of the shooting.

There is, right now, so much widespread poverty in Africa that people are actually crossing illegally into Israel and are using boats or whatever to get to anywhere in order to live. The people in question here were living in a dilapidated factory, trying to eke out some sort of an existence. I think it is just xenophobia, but, perhaps there is more to the issue. Perhaps they just can’t absorb the population in countries that already have a fair level of poverty. Italy has rich and poor, but a thriving economic powerhouse it ain’t (unless you compare it to Somalia or Sudan).

If circumstances are that bad in Africa, then that is the problem that needs to be attacked. Somewhere in the confusion of genocide, poverty, fundamentalism, and corruption lies the solution to the problem of keeping people in their own lands where they can make a living. Until this moveable population of terrified refugees, of an economic and political nature, can be convinced to stay where they come from, you can forget about a local solution to the problem. The Italians have their fears, but so does everyone else. And their fear, rational or not, is of being swamped by desperate people.

Looked at Haiti lately? Desperate people are everywhere. Maybe we just haven’t been paying attention.