News and views from the award-winning author of the Class H Trilogy: AMERICA LIBRE, HOUSE DIVIDED and PANCHO LAND

Friday, January 8, 2010

Immigrants riot after vigilante shootings in Italy

A friend sent me a link to this story with "Italia Libre" as the subject line.

ROSARNO, Italy, Jan 8 (Reuters) - Clashes between immigrants and locals in a southern Italian town entered a second day on Friday, with the government rushing extra police to try to stem one of the worst episodes of racial unrest in years.

The violence inflamed a long-running political debate on immigration, with the interior minister saying years of excessive "tolerance" were behind the violence, and the opposition accusing the government of fuelling xenophobia.

President Giorgio Napolitano called for an immediate end to the unrest, during which at least 37 people, including 18 policemen, have been injured.
Some 8,000 illegal immigrants work in the southern Calabria region where the clashes have erupted, most as day labourers picking fruit and vegetables. Many live in abandoned factories with no running water or electricity and human rights groups say they are exploited by organised crime.

The clashes started on Thursday, when a gang of white youths in a car fired air rifles at a group of African immigrants returning from work on farms, injuring two of them.

The attack set off a night of rioting by dozens of Africans, who smashed car windows with steel bars and stones and set cars and rubbish bins on fire.

"Those guys were firing at us as if it were a fair ground, they were laughing. I was screaming and there were other cars passing by but nobody stopped, nobody called the police," Kamal, a Moroccan, told La Repubblica newspaper.

Raul Ramos y Sanchez