The recent death of an African immigrant in Milan highlights racial and ethnic tensions.
For the past two weeks, groups of teenagers have mourned in front of "Shining," a snack bar not far from Milan's Central Station. Many leave flowers and cards. But some leave cookies and two euros, a provocative gesture referencing the killing of Abdul Guibre: the 19-year-old African-Italian youth who was allegedly beaten to death Sept. 14 by two shop owners for having stolen some cookies, worth a few euros.
This death comes on the heels of a recent wave of racially motivated attacks in Italy that are raising concerns about violence against minorities, and a potential backlash from those who feel they are unfairly treated as second-class citizens.
"This is the poisoned fruit of a process that began in the early 1990s, when the first boats of migrants came from Albania," says Jean Leonard Touadi, a lawmaker in Parliament and an African-Italian born in Congo. "Since then, a syndrome of invasion, fueled by extremists, has been spreading in the broader public, even though until recently Italy [had] a lower migration rate than the rest of Europe."
Tensions between Italians and immigrants have run high this year. On Aug. 18, the son of an Angolan diplomat was beaten in Rome by a neo-Nazi group. Earlier in the summer, Roma (gypsy) camps were set on fire near Naples. Six African immigrants were killed in September in a small town in central Italy, though some reports say it was a Mafia killing.