Thousands in Italy march against racism

About 200,000 people turned out in the northern Italian city of Milan to protest against racism on 2 March 2019. Protestors were campaigning against the right-wing populists’ policies, saying it spreads fear, hatred and division.

Instead, their slogan “people first” is a celebration of diversity as a cultural treasure. The demonstration packed the streets with colour, music and dance.

“We are here to show that acceptance is a very beautiful thing and that diversity is an enrichment,” a woman told Euronews.  

Another protestor said, “We are against this atmosphere of racism and because our families chose to be of many colours and differences.”

“We want Italy and Europe to change their policies, to put people at the centre with their difficulties,” a man told Italian broadcaster Rai TV.

Beppe Sala, Milan’s social democrat mayor, described the protests as a watershed moment.

Matteo Salvini’s right wing populist government, the northern league party, won the elections in Italy in March 2018 on a platform of anti-immigration rhetoric. During his campaign, he vowed to force an estimated 400,000 migrants back to their countries of origin.

Since taking up the role of Interior Minister, Salvini has banned rescue boats from docking and operating in Italian waters, and equipped the Libyan coastguard with training and boats to intercept migrant vessels and return them to Libya. As a result, the Libyan coastguard said it intercepted and rescued 15,000 migrants in the Mediterranean in 2018. This move had seen widespread condemnation from the United Nations, which said Libya is unsafe for people to return to.

Salvini, however, said the government’s new immigration policies will “make Italy safer”. In September, the government also issued a decree to make it easier to deport migrants and strip them of their citizenship if they commit serious crimes.

TMP – 4/03/2019

Photo credit: MikeDotta / Shutterstock. Demonstration against racism in Milan, Italy.

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