When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

LA STAMPA

In Florence, Where Counterfeit Gucci And Immigrant Dreams Meet Racist Violence

After two Senegalese men were slain in a central Florence market by a local man inspired by racist hatred, immigrants turned out in the Tuscan city to demand justice and insist that the murder was the fruit of years of official tolerance of xenophobic att

A street vendor in northern Italy (krossbow)
A street vendor in northern Italy (krossbow)
Guido Ruotolo

FLORENCE - "Who will tell our mother?" The brother of Modou Samba, a Senegalese vendor gunned down on Tuesday in Florence by an Italian far-right militant, speaks with a hoarse whisper of a voice. He refers to his brother by his nickname: "Samb had a wife and a child. He'd been living here for 11 years, without ever going back home." Yes, someone must tell their mother.

Samba and Diop Mor, another Senegalese immigrant selling merchandise in central Florence, were killed by Gianluca Casseri. The 50-year-old, who held extreme anti-immigrant views, also seriously wounded three other immigrants, before committing suicide.

Florence imam, Ezidim, called Samaba and Mor "martyrs' of racist-fueled violence. Following Tuesday's shooting, more than 300 Senegalese residents of Florence took part in angry demonstrations throughout the city's streets and piazzas. As they marched toward to the central government prefecture building, some protesters knocked over motorbikes, as well as cafe tables and chairs. Nervous shopkeepers locked up their stores and restaurants.

Many of these mostly young people have been living in Florence for 10 to 15 years. The city has become their home, but now they were feeling lost – and scared.

On Tuesday evening, in Florence's historic Duomo square, one of the world's most visited tourist destinations, an anxious crowd gathered. There were moments of anger, of sorrow and reflection. One of the young people spoke in careful but clear Italian. "No, don't call him the killer a lunatic. If he had been crazy he would have shot white and black alike. And yet, he didn't. He was a selective lunatic who hit only black."

Others shared their daily grievances. "I went to community support organization Caritas looking for a job," said one African immigrant, who did not want to give his name. "But they are afraid of my skin color." Another protester added: "I didn't know the victims, but I'm here because it is like I had been killed too."

As the crowd grew, two women, Farhia and Gani, spoke up. "I'll buy white paint, so they won't kill me," Farhia, a Somali woman, quipped. But turning more serious she added: "Culturally, we are all turning into barbarians. All this is terrible and inexplicable."

"Paying for years of racism..."

Alessandro Martini, director of the local branch of Caritas, said the shootings have shaken the city. "Florence is a very civilized city, where people work every day, and everyone tries to live with dignity," he said. "The city has been wounded. This is a deep wound."

And yet, was it really the unexplainable act of a lunatic? Many people on the square disagreed. "We are paying for 15 years of racism which has been legitimized at a governmental level," said Farhia.

In Florence there are some 7,000 Senegalese people, with another 13,000 in Pisa and Pontedera. Once, the stereotypical Senegalese immigrant was a street vendor. They were called – and often still are - "vu cumprà" which is a quite racist expression imitating the pronunciation of African Immigrants saying , "Vuoi comprare?" that is, "Do you want to buy?" Today, Senegalese people in Florence work more frequently in manufacturing, in import-export trade, and in door-to-door sales. Many of them work in local markets, as Modou Samaba and Diop Mor did.

Pape Diaw, a leader of Florence's Senegalese community, and a former city counselor, said that reading comments on Facebook in recent months had given him the feeling that something bad was going to happen. "I felt something in the air. If you ignore it, an open wound can fester," Diaw said. He blamed politics. "They have trivilized the phenomenon of racism and called hate crimes just childish actions. But politicians were absent, and did not create a culture of cohabitation and prevention. The problem of the immigration was raised only during the electoral campaigns, in order to obtain votes," Diaw said.

A sort of impromptu live conference began. Senator Mass Thiam, the representative of Senegalese people living abroad, talked into a microphone. "In Tuscany, Senegalese hawkers have been persecuted by police and by competitors. Ask yourself who provide our brothers with fake Gucci bags to sell on the streets? The Italians do it. But the police only go after us."

Read the original article in Italian

Photo - krossbow

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Geopolitics

Women, Life, Freedom: Iranian Protesters Find Their Voice

In the aftermath of the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested by the morality police mid-September for not wearing her hijab properly, many Iranians have taken the streets in nationwide protests. Independent Egyptian media Mada Masr spoke to one of the protesters.

Students of Amirkabir University in Tehran protest against the Islamic Republic in September 2022.

Lina Attalah

On September 16, protests erupted across Iran when 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died in custody after being arrested and beaten by morality police for her supposedly unsuitable attire. The protests, witnesses recount, have touched on all aspects of rights in Iran, civil, political, personal, social and economic.

Mada Masr spoke to a protester who was in the prime of her youth during the 2009 Green Movement protests. Speaking on condition of anonymity due to possible security retaliation, she walked us through what she has seen over the past week in the heart of Tehran, and how she sees the legacy of resistance street politics in Iran across history.

MADA MASR: Describe to us what you are seeing these days on the streets of Tehran.

ANONYMOUS PROTESTER: People like me, we are emotional because we remember 2009. The location of the protests is the same: Keshavarz Boulevard in the middle of Tehran. The last time Tehranis took to these streets was in 2009, one of the last protests of the Green Movement. Since then, the center of Tehran hasn’t seen any mass protests, and most of these streets have changed, with new urban planning meant to make them more controllable.

Remembering 2009 triggers many things, such as street strategies, tactics and the way we could find each other in the middle of the chaos. But this is us now, almost at the back. Up front, there are many younger people, especially girls. They are extremely brave, fearless and smart.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
Writing contest - My pandemic story
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ