Last week we told you the story of a Polish couple, easily spending their vacation on an Italian beach only to get gang-raped by a group of 4 African immigrants who have since been arrested. Poland asks for their extradition, Italy says the trial will be held in Italy.
That story is here:
That particular event, and a few more sad ones like it, is fuel to the fire of anti-migrant angst in Italy, which has an election coming up. Though everyone always thinks of the million immigrants that Germany took in, few mention the 600,000 that Italy has taken over the past few years. And in Italy’s case, the taking of 600,000 refugees was not really done willingly. Italy has simply become the point of entry for African immigrants going to Europe ever since the Eastern Europeans closed the Balkans route.
The Italian press is unlike the German press though. Whereas the German newspaper editors were reluctant to report on the mass groping during a new year’s party in Cologne, the Italian newspapers do not share this sentiment.
An opinion poll in one of the biggest newspapers in Italy, la Repubblica, showed 46 percent of Italians thought migrants represented a threat to their personal safety and to public order against 40 percent in the last such survey in February. Back in 2012, that figure was 26 percent.
This is where the Lega Nord (The Northern League) comes in.
“There are too many of them. I will send quite a few home,” the Tweet of Matteo Salvini, head of the right wing Northern League, was commenting after a Bangladeshi man was arrested in Rome for having raped a Finnish au pair. Lega Nord support has for years stood at 5 to 6 percent. Since the rape cases made the press, they are polling near 15 percent.
All opposition parties in Italy know that racism and angst of migrants are on the rise in Italy. The center right party of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Forza Italia, is making a similar sound.
Deborah Bergamini, a parliamentarian lawmaker for Forza Italia: “Some 40 percent of rapes are being committed by foreigners who make up 8 percent of the population. You can’t sweep this under a carpet. The influx of migrants is having major consequences.”
Italy will have an election in the beginning of 2018, meaning in about 4 to 5 months. These headlines will not go away and migration will likely be the top of the political agenda.