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Xenophobia, Radicalism, and Hate Crime in ITALY, 2016

Xenophobia, Radicalism, and Hate Crime in ITALY, 2016

Italy has recorded a number of 175.000 immigrants and refugees to the date of 7 December 2016 following the never ending Syrian refugees’ crisis and the long-lasting influx of immigrants coming mainly from Africa, but also from the central north-east European regions and the Balkans.

The immigration problem has taken central stage in the political life of the country with specific political parties like the Lega Nord, the Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S), and movements of fascist and ultra-nationalist imprinting like CasaPound Italia, Forza Nuova or the most recent Libertà e Azione. There has been an increase of cases of xenophobia, homophobia and general intolerance against diversity in Italy, with particular forms of discrimination especially against Muslims , African citizens and the Roma and Sinti communities.

The Italian authorities seem to attempting to circumscribe the xenophobic and racist wave, or at least, to contain the episodes of intolerance that often are reported by the media, but they not always succeed; this is due to some ambiguities of the Italian Laws regarding the notion of ‘discrimination of minorities’ and by the complex Italian socio-political framework, as the recent ECRI report on Italy has well documented.

Italian public seems to have become more open and vocal regarding anti-immigrant and anti-Muslims feelings, especially thanks to the widespread use of social platforms like Facebook or Twitter, or using blogs and websites openly racist and xenophobic which publish daily fake news with false information on the authorities’ policies on immigrants or alleged crimes committed by the latter. This hostile environment has created increased marginalisation of immigrant groups and has exacerbated the sense of frustration and hatred often translated into episodes of radicalisation. However, unemployment and an increased level of threshold poverty for many Italian families, have accelerated the process of political radicalisation of the poorest and lowest groups on the social scale, leaning toward ultra-nationalist and self-declared xenophobic parties and organisations. There is an overall mounting sense of anti-establishment to the advantage of populist and ultra-nationalist political realities.

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