Italy’s casual racism is out of place in town where migrants are helping economy

Two examples, one bad, one good:

It is an aging country with towns and villages emptying of their young, and a country where racism is never far below the surface. When it explodes, it is often tolerated.

It is also a country with tens of thousands of potential new citizens sitting on its doorstep. With a few exceptions, however, Italy is very reluctant to try to integrate them.

Sulley Muntari has been around. He’s 32 and has played for several top Italian teams as well as teams in Britain. He’s also played for Ghana’s national team 84 times.

He knows how the game is played in Italy, he knows the corrosive power of fans called “ultras” and their penchant for racist abuse. But in early May he snapped. He had appealed to the referee to do something about the unrelenting chants. The referee did nothing. So Muntari left the game.

Sulley Muntari — Italian soccer player

Sulley Muntari of Pescara remonstrates with football fans during a Serie A match April 30 in Cagliari, Italy. (Enrico Locci/Getty)

For this, the Italian soccer federation suspended him for a further game. It said the abuse was minor, coming from a minority of just 10 or 15 fans.

Meanwhile, in the mountains of the south, the town council of Sant’Alessio rents out eight apartments which house 35 migrants — an Iraqi Kurdish family, and people from Nigeria, Mali and Senegal.

The town gets up to 45 euros ($70 Cdn) a day for each migrant from the national government to house, feed and help train them. There are vocational classes and legal and medical aid.

The mission began as humanitarian aid, Mayor Stephano Calabro said. “But there are significant economic benefits, too.”

The subsidies are helping to keep the town’s dying shops and services alive.

Most migrants aren’t so lucky. Over the years, people on the southern island of Lampedusa have worked heroically to rescue and welcome thousands of new arrivals who risked their lives in the sea crossing.

But now at least 170,000 migrants languish in makeshift government camps, waiting for months, even years, while their asylum requests work their way through the slow, tortuous, complicated bureaucratic process.

Source: Italy’s casual racism is out of place in town where migrants are helping economy – World – CBC News


About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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