African immigrants call for end to language of hate in Italian politics (VIDEO)

African migrants watch a memorial service for the deaths of hundreds of migrants in last week's Lampedusa boat disaster, in Tel Aviv October 12, 2013. — Reuters pic
African migrants watch a memorial service for the deaths of hundreds of migrants in last week's Lampedusa boat disaster, in Tel Aviv October 12, 2013. — Reuters pic

FLORENCE, March 10 — It’s one of Italy’s most popular tourist destinations.

But behind the picturesque scenes, African immigrants in Florence want to see an end to the language of hate they say Italian political parties are encouraging, especially since the election.

“I believe that for the first time in my life an entire country has built its entire electoral campaign not on political programs but on witch-hunts and hatred towards migrants,” representative of the Senegalese community of Florence, Pape Diaw, said.

Pape Diaw quotes a report by Amnesty International, that says 95 per cent of speeches by the League party’s leader Matteo Salvini, were racist.

Following Last week’s national election, the League became the second biggest party in parliament, behind the 5-Star Movement.

Both have vowed to ramp up deportations of irregular migrants.

But some say Italy’s media is also to blame for ramping up tensions.

“I appeal to everyone. We Muslims are asked to choose our words responsibly so politicians and media should also be careful because words can be more dangerous than bullets, worse than a murder. We shouldn’t hurt each other with a knife or with words,” imam and president of the Muslim community of Florence and Tuscany, Izzedin Elzir, said.

Protests broke out in Florence last week as members of the African community criticised the League for stoking racial tensions after a Senegalese street vendor was shot dead.

54-year-old Idy Dienec was hit six times as he sold leather bags, umbrellas and trinkets on a bridge.

His friends describe him as a delightful person, and say Italians need tranquillity and not hate in their lives right now. — Reuters

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