Monday, January 11, 2010

Unrest Between Italians and African Immigrants in Town of Rosarno

"Migrants leave Italian town amid violence"
By Richard Allen Greene, CNN


"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."...

It was the shooting of an African migrant that sparked two days of protests, [according to]Iddris ... He said the shooting was unprovoked. Police said they were investigating the circumstances of the shooting.

Iddris lived with other migrants in an abandoned factory outside Rosarno, he said.

On Thursday, a BMW pulled up outside the factory, a man got out, shot one of the Africans living there, 26-year-old Ayiva Saibou, and drove off.

A passing policeman told Iddris and his friends it was not his job to help the wounded man, so they called the Red Cross to take the man to a hospital for treatment, Iddris said. Press reports said Saibou -- who is a native of Togo with regular working papers -- was shot with a compressed air gun.

A few hours after the shooting, a group of about 300 immigrants poured into to the street where the incident took place earlier. "They put on an angry demonstration, hampering the free circulation in the streets, damaging garbage bins, hitting with sticks and rocks numerous passing cars," according to a police report.

Iddris and his friends then decided to march to Rosarno's town hall to protest.

'About 2,000 people came -- all of us,' he said. 'It started about 6 or 7 in the evening, a few hours after he was shot.'

But police forced the demonstrators to turn back, threatening them with tear gas, Iddris said. Six or seven people were arrested, he said.

Police attempted talking with the immigrants, but negotiations did not produce positive results, according to a police statement.

The next morning, Friday, the immigrants tried again, playing drums as they tried to march from the factory to Rosarno's town hall, he said.

That's when they heard the warning...

Pope Benedict XVI spoke out against the violence in his weekly address on Sunday.

'An immigrant is a human being, different by background, culture and tradition, but a person to be respected,' he said.

'Violence must never be a way to resolve difficulties,' he said, urging people 'to look at the face of the other and discover that he, too, has a soul, a story and a life. He is a person and God loves him just as He loves me.'

Di Giacomo, the International Organization for Migration spokesman, said Italy has many migrants, often from Africa, living in conditions bordering on slavery.

The migrants who demonstrated last week 'were exploited. They were just paid 20 euros (about $29) per day and they lived in slums, the same as slavery conditions. A few months ago in (the southern Italian region of) Campagna we discovered a similar situation. It's unfortunately a reality in many places, especially in southern Italy.'

Italy is one of the top European destinations for migrants, the migration organization's figures show. More than 3.6 million legal migrants live in the country -- 6.2 percent of the total population -- and Italy has the European Union's highest annual growth rate of migrants, along with Spain...

Italian media have speculated that the Mafia was behind the shooting that triggered the violence."

Read the full article: http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/europe/01/11/italy.migrant.violence/index.html

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