On Saturday, a national demonstration against racism took place in Rome.
Nobody is a foreigner and all immigrants are entitled to the admission and residence permit was the message the organizer of the demonstration Stop Racism Committee was sending out.
Stop Racism is made up of several anti-racist groups which include Italians and non-Italians members.
After the recent spate of attacks on immigrants, the level of tension has risen in Italy. On Tuesday thousands of overseas Chinese marched through the streets of Rome to mourn a man and his baby daughter, killed during a robbery a few days earlier. On 17 December 2011, over 15 thousand people joined a demonstration in Florence to commemorate two Senegalese men gunned down by an Italian with far-right leanings.
Hundreds of asylum seekers and migrants seeking to obtain residential permits were at the demonstration. Today, it is a crime to enter or stay in Italy illegally, punishable by heavy fines. Migrants are often kept in a ‘legal limbo’ waiting for their asylum claims to be processed. This can take months, even years.
At the demonstration migrants pressed Italian authorities to boost public security and to introduce more effective integration policies. The European Union has repeatedly stressed that integration of immigrants into Italy and other European countries is a priority.
Although episodes of racist violence are becoming more frequent, many Italians are firmly opposed to such discrimination. However, the absence of effective integration policies – due to politicians’ unwillingness to tackle this sensitive issue- maintains an environment where intolerance and acts of racist violence are more likely to prosper. Many hope that the current Government of technocrats will have the courage to fill this political void.