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Asylum Refuge Burnt Down by Angry Locals in Rome

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Anti-migrant feelings have again boiled over in a less wealthy Rome suburb, as locals burnt out forty asylum seekers from their temporary homes, prompting the local government to move them to a secret location nearby.

Italy has become a major point of entry to Europe for thousands of migrants and asylum seekers, given its close proximity to lawless Libya across the Mediterranean. The enormous influx of new Europeans over the past few years has clearly put great strain on some parts of Italian society, as hostility towards migrant groups and political groups espousing anti-asylum rhetoric increases.

After local residents living in council-owned accommodation in Tor Sapienza, Rome, were told they were facing eviction on Wednesday, tensions with the local migrant population who live at the ‘Smile’ centre at the taxpayer’s expense came to a head as a number of dustbins were set alight. This is not the first time the centre has been targeted – in November last year, locals threw home-made bombs and rocks at the building.

Passions were then inflamed by complaints of sexual assault of local girls by migrants. Riot police were in heavy attendance at anti-migrant demonstrations in which residents chanted “the blacks have to go”.

Tor Sapienza Rome Migrant Riots Italy

Riot Police on the streets of Tor Sapienza, Rome, after anti-migrant protests last year / AP

A local tradesman interviewed by The Times summed up the feeling of many in the area when he said: “The country is in pieces, why don’t they stop dumping boatloads of migrants here? If you’ve got no work, why come here?”

For many of the migrants who travelled from Africa or the near-East to Italy, Europe has not been the land of dreams they were promised, however without help they are unable to return home. One Ethiopian from the centre, who said he came to Europe to avoid jail: “I’m afraid and I do not want to stay here anymore but I cannot go home… Outside, people would call us ‘Black pieces of s***’, but inside, with the police cordon, it felt like being back in prison”.

Breitbart London reported last year on one politician who got into hot water with the Italian media after making some unconventional, and somewhat violent suggestions about how to deal with asylum seekers coming to the country. Andrea Della Puppa, a secretary of the regionalist, anti-migrant Lega Nord party was ordered to apologise after posting an internet ‘meme’ suggesting that in the cold Italian winters, suffering asylum seekers should be set on fire to alleviate their suffering.

Struck with a plague of violence and criminality after a large Roma gypsy camp established itself on the city limits, one Italian mayor came up with a significantly less violent answer to his local problem. After gypsies conducted a prolonged campaign of violence against bus drivers and fellow passengers on the public transport route leading from their camp to the city centre, the mayor of Borgaro launched a separate gypsy only bus – with a heavy police presence.

A “blonde haired Moldovan” using the bus described the scene when the bus stopped near the camp: “Everyone was attacked. They punched the ticket machine. Then they got on the bus and stuck a knife to my cheek… if it wasn’t for the bus driver, I don’t know how it would have ended”.


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