A masked group of some 20 men armed with sticks went on the rampage in Rome’s multi-ethnic Pigneto district May 24, smashing the windows of shops owned by Indian and Bangladeshi immigrants while hurling verbal abuse. The mob disappeared before police arrived. The assault comes days after a mob firebombed Gypsy (Roma) camps in Naples.
Last month, crowds at Rome’s town hall welcomed newly elected mayor Gianni Alemanno with fascist salutes. Alemanno, a former neo-fascist, was voted in on a pledge to expel 20,000 migrants from Rome he said had broken the law. However, he said he was “outraged” by the attack and promised “exemplary punishment for the guilty.”
The attack also comes as Silvio Berlusconi’s administration launches a crackdown on illegal immigration. “Italy is not a racist country,” said interior minister Roberto Maroni of the anti-immigrant Northern League. “Episodes of this kind are sometimes inflamed by crimes committed by illegal immigrants.” (The Guardian, May 26)