Player joins racism alert (Italy)

The first black footballer to play for Italy on Friday joined the growing chorus of voices warning that the country could be facing an epidemic of racism. ”As an Italian I am ashamed,” veteran Palermo midfielder Fabio Liverani told ANSA after the latest in a series of apparently racist attacks the previous day. Liverani, 32, a half-Somali who made history by turning out for Italy in 2001, noted that he was from the same working-class Rome district, Tor Bella Monaca, where Thursday’s assault on a Chinese man occurred. The ex-Lazio and Fiorentina player said he had noticed a rise in intolerance. ”It’s like we’ve travelled 60 years back in time. And the level of violence is rising. When I was a boy I suffered some episodes of racism but it was essentially verbal”. ”Just when we thought some progress was being made things are going backwards. I used to hang out in that area. It was a place that had managed to clean itself up, but now this”. The Chinese immigrant, 36-year-old Tong Hongsheng, was beaten up by a group of teenagers. An eye witness told police Tong was on his way home when he was surrounded by a group of five or six teenagers who shouted racist slurs before breaking his nose and inflicting other injuries. One of Tong’s attackers went to Rome city hall with his father Friday to apologise to Mayor Gianni Alemanno for the incident. Police said the same group attacked two 30-year-old Ivory Coast immigrants last week after shouting racist insults. Also on Friday, graffiti insulting Anne Frank appeared in another Rome suburb. In another part of Rome someone recently daubed anti-Semitic slogans against Senate Speaker Renato Schifani, who is Jewish. Insulting graffiti were also found near Milan Friday about a Romanian boy who burned to death in a shanty last week.Italian human rights groups and the Catholic Church have for months been sounding the alarm over what they say is growing intolerance of immigrants in Italian society. Earlier this week a case in Parma made headlines when a young student from Ghana was allegedly beaten up by traffic police who reportedly mistook him for a drugs pusher. Last month an immigrant from Burkina Faso who ran out of a Milan store with a packet of biscuits was killed by the shopkeeper who allegedly beat him to death with an iron bar after hurling racist insults. The death brought thousands of African immigrants onto the streets of Milan in protest. Earlier last month the African community in Castel Volturno near Naples rioted after the Camorra mafia mowed down three Ghanaians, two Togo nationals and a Liberian. A poll of readers of the left-leaning newspaper La Repubblica on Thursday found 86% agreeing with the proposition that Italy has ”a racism emergency”. This summer the Italian government was widely accused of racism because of a survey of Roma (gypsy) camps which included the fingerprinting of children. The government insisted the census – which was eventually OK’d by the European Commission – was not aimed against any specific ethnic group or spurred by a wave of crime-linked anti-immigrant feeling.In the face of protests, Italy agreed with the European Union to make sure the scheme complied with human rights norms. It also announced it would require all Italian citizens to have their prints put on ID cards starting in 2010. But the Council of Europe (CE), Europe’s rights body, claimed that Italian politicians had lacked ”the moral leadership” to face down the kind of anti-gypsy sentiment that led to incidents such as the torching of camps in Naples in June.© Ansa

This entry was posted in News/Events. Bookmark the permalink.