Gambian migrants and asylum seekers fear backlash in Italy

The arrest of Gambian asylum seeker Alagie Touray by Italian authorities, on suspicions of planning a terrorist attack on behalf of ISIS, has left other Gambian migrants and asylum seekers in Italy fearful of a backlash.

In a video found by investigators, Touray swears allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Prosecutor Giovanni Melillo told reporters. “This gesture is often followed by a terrorist attack,” he added.

Touray, who arrived in Italy in 2017 after being rescued from a boat with several hundred others, was arrested in April of this year after Italian authorities Spanish police received a tip from Spanish the country’s intelligence services. BeforeAt the time of his arrest, his the twenty-one year old had applied for political asylum request was, which is still pending.

Members of the Gambian community in Italy are understandably worried that the incident could result in stiffer immigration laws, further complicating access to political asylum in Italy. Many are also concerned that the arrest could fuel mistrust between Italians and Gambian migrants, potentially leading to job losses and other sociological problems.

Omar, a Gambian asylum seeker living in Naples, condemned the incident involving Touray. He also and expressed concern that he and other asylum seekers could face further discrimination.

During an interview conducted via WhatsApp, Oman lamented the circumstances created by Touray’s alleged actions. “Our reputation is at stake now. Even our movement may be closely monitored by security agents who will not want a repeat of such. Believe me, we may encounter a lot of hostilities due to the shameful actions of our compatriot.”

Many Gambian migrants living in Italy expressed similar sentiments, during recent interviews, stating that they are concerned that the actions of one individual might lead the Italian government to cave in to the demands of far right political groups who demand stricter asylum policies.

Foday, another Gambian migrant living in Italy, echoed similar fears when asked to comment on the situation. “The mood here is very somber; everybody is thinking about the next step to be taken by the authorities.” However, hope remains. “Nonetheless, we hope the Italians will see this as an individual decision and not a collective one,” Fodayhe said.

Saho, a Gambian migrant who is currently living in an asylum camp while his asylum application is under review FBSaho expressed a deep fear that the arrest of a Gambian migrant on terror -related charges could lead to more asylum rejections, as well as mass deportations of Gambians from Italy.

The concerns expressed by Gambian migrants and asylum seekers that may be justified given the reaction of anti-immigrant Italians to Touray’s arrestIn the wake of the arrest, right wing political leaders have indeed increased the level of their negative rhetoric against foreigners and migrants. The leader of Italy’s far right Northern League, Matteo Salvini, was clear in his conflation of migration and terrorism, tweeting “Stop the invasion before it is too late.”


TMP – 07/07/2018


Photo credit: Polizia di Stato – Photo caption: Asylum-seeker Alagie Touray, 21, was arrested in southern Italy on April 20, 2018, Italian authorities said.