Italian Parliamentary dons blackface to “protest” benefits for Black immigrants

From Italy MP ‘blacks up’ for anti-migrant speech - Europe - Al Jazeera English (emphasis mine)

A right-wing Italian politician smeared his face with black greasepaint in parliament, advising Italians to “become a bit darker” if they wanted to take advantage of the country’s supposed hand-outs to black immigrants.[…]

"At the end of the day, maybe in this country in order to achieve anything we need to be a bit darker.

"I say we can all put make-up on and make ourselves a bit darker, and then we can all go around painted black and say we want the same help that non-EU citizens get.

The Northern League has accused Cecile Kyenge, the country’s Congo-born minister for integration, of using her post to “favour negritude”.

When I wrote about the racist constructions used in the European Union as a project of Empire, this is precisely the kind of ideology I was referring to. In this construction, to be Black, to be of color, to be Other is to never be fully acknowledged as belonging. This from the article:

Kyenge is Italy’s first black politician and has experienced multiple incidents of racism, not least from the Northern League.

Its leader Roberto Calderoli compared her to an orang-utan last year. He was later charged with defamation aggravated by racial discrimination.

Kyenge has also had bananas thrown at her during public appearances and the political party’s official newspaper has started printing her daily agenda, detailing her official appointments.

Here’s a hint of why these issues are nowhere close to be fixed:

In response, Nichi Vendola, the head of the left-wing SEL party, tweeted: “Can someone tell the racists that we’re in the Third Millennium and are a civilised country, despite them.

“The racists think they’re in Alabama or Mississippi of a half-century ago or in South Africa during apartheid.”

These places that Vendola points out as examples of horrific racism were made so through a history of European colonialism. The racism and violence that took place/ is taking place in those locations is a direct result of a European ideology that was imposed in them. To now point to them as “examples” of anything without any historical contextualization of how they came to be, where those ideas originated, etc, is to further push the myth of an enlightened Europe that somewhat bears no responsibility for how white supremacy came to be and how, to this day, the European Union is founded and expanded on these ideas. 

In the name of European safety: the gang rapes of undocumented and refugee women

TRIGGER WARNING FOR GRAPHIC DETAILS OF ASSAULT, TORTURE AND SEXUAL ABUSE. Further disclaimer: I usually steer clear of graphic depictions of rape, abuse or torture because I do believe they can (and often are) used as “media porn” without any motive behind their use (i.e. without a political or analytical context). However, I am making an exception because I wholeheartedly believe that these stories provide an essential element to contextualize EU wide immigration policies and border interventions.

On the news today: Migrants in Italy testify over alleged rape 

Migrants who survived a shipwreck in which 366 people died testified in court on Monday ahead of a trial against a Somali people smuggler who allegedly raped and tortured them during their voyage from Eritrea.

The seven Eritreans who gave evidence at the hearing included an 18-year-old girl who cowered in the arms of a police officer in court when she saw her suspected rapist, Elmi Mouhamud Muhidin, Italian media reported.[…]

Prosecutors during Monday’s hearing alleged that Muhidin was the director of the detention facility in Libya where the migrants were held before being taken to the coast to begin their ill-fated sea journey. The closed-door hearing took place in Palermo in Sicily.

The investigators said that a total of 20 women who boarded the ship had been raped by Muhidin and his henchmen and that only the girl who testified on Monday had survived the nighttime shipwreck just off Lampedusa.

Back in October, when I covered the Lampedusa tragedy, I wrote about the urgency of a feminist analysis on the gender specific aspect of mass death of women at sea. I pointed to the discrepancy between casualty figures of men and women. I’ve also written about how rape culture manifests in the migrant/ refugee experience of undocumented people who are unable to report their abuse and who are left with no legal recourse to obtain justice. So today, when I read about this trial, I was mostly interested in the context of these rapes and the ongoing manifestations of torture and abuse of migrant women, mostly from Africa.

When I approached this today, I immediately tried to find more background information behind this tidbit: Muhidin was the director of the detention facility in Libya. In my research, I came across this previously reported item at Al Jazeera, Lampedusa boat victims raped and tortured 

Dozens of the people who were on the boat that sank near the Italian coast last month were raped and tortured in Libya before starting their journey, Italian police said.

The police revelation on Friday came after they announced the detention of Mouhamud Elmi Muhidin, a Somali citizen, who is believed to be the alleged organiser behind the smugglers’ ship packed with migrants that sank off the coast of a southern Italian island, killing more than 365 migrants.

According to migrants’ testimony, the 20 women in the group were repeatedly raped and offered to Libyan visitors “as if they were a cup of tea”.

Muhidin, Libyan militiamen and Sudanese traffickers all took part in the alleged assaults in a detention centre in Sabha in southwest Libya, that Italian prosecutor Maurizio Scalia likened to “a concentration camp”.

"They forced us to watch our men being tortured with various methods including batons, electric shocks to the feet. Whoever rebelled was tied up," read the testimony of a 17-year-old Eritrean girl in the investigation, Italian newspaper La Repubblica daily reported.

The migrants were forced to pay up to $3500 for their freedom and their onward journey to the Libyan coast and a boat to Italy.

"The women who could not pay were assaulted," the girl was quoted as saying in her criminal charge.

She also described in horrific detail her own sexual assault, saying that Muhidin was one of the three men who raped her.

"They threw me on the ground, held down my arms and covered my mouth, and poured gasoline on my head, which burned my scalp, skin and eyes," she said through a translator. "And then, not yet happy, the three took turns raping me."

Now we know three facts:

1) there were ongoing gang rapes of undocumented/ refugee women
2) Mouhamud Elmi Muhidin was the director of a detention camp
3) the camp is located in in Sabha, southwest Libya

It would be easy to confine these facts to Libya and gloss over a wider picture. “This happens to African migrants in African territories, hence, these events are outside the realm of the European Union’s responsibilities”. Except from this, documented in the research published by Ariane Chebel D’Appollonia in her book “Frontiers of Fear”

Meanwhile, [in 2003] Italy bilaterally began the construction of a detention camp in northern Libya to facilitate deportations, and two additional camps in Kufra and Sabha were under discussion. Little information has filtered out regard-ing the funding of these facilities, The Italian government also provided Libya with training and equipment to asist in surveillance and management. In 2005 the Italian minister of interior reportedly pledged to give Libya €15 million over a three-year period for border control equipment.

Then there’s the extensive database at the Global Detention Project that documents the actual beginning of operations at the Sabha detention camp

Sabha. In 2008, the government opened a new immigration detention centre in Sabha, at the edge of the Sahara, which is a key entry point for undocumented migrants entering Libya (Fortress Europe 2009). According to Fortress Europe, the compound is made up of three buildings, where a total of 1,000 people can be detained. Between 60 and 70 people are held in each of the facilities eight-by-eight meter rooms. Detainees reportedly sleep on the ground. Light, ventilation, and time spent outside the rooms are reportedly grossly insufficient (Fortress Europe 2009). Many migrants detained in this facility are caught in the desert and detained in immigration detention facilities close to the border before being transported in truck-loads of 100 or 200 people to the Sabha facility.

And this:

Apart from this pact, there is no formal agreement between the two countries [ED NOTE: the two countries being Italy and Libya] for the return of migrants entering Italy illegally from Libya (HRW 2006a, p. 117; Government of Italy 2007). Instead, Italy has supported Libya’s immigration control efforts through verbal agreements and the provision of “a program of technical assistance to the Libyan Authorities,” including in “a) Professional training; b) Assistance for the repatriation of illegal migrants to Third countries; c) Supply of goods and services; d) Setting up of reception centres for illegal migrants; e) Operational and investigative cooperation” (Government of Italy 2007, p. 16).

Human rights organisations and media reports have alleged that Italy provides significant funding to Libya for the construction of immigration detention facilities (Brothers 2007), and that “once the Italian government has expelled foreigners back to Libya, it also pays for charter flights for Libya to send the people home,” including some fifty charter flights that transported 5,668 people between August 2003 and December 2004[…]

Since 2004, the Council of the European Union has engaged Libya on the subject of immigration, providing assistance through training and monitoring equipment designed to strengthen its maritime borders and encourage coordinated sea control operations (HRW 2009, p. 31). The EU is currently negotiating a package worth tens of millions of euros with Libya (HRW 2009, p. 32; EU Business 2009a). According to HRW, the EU has proposed funding for the construction of accommodation centres for asylum seekers (€20 million) and for migration management projects on Libya’s southern border (€60 million). As of late 2009, an agreement had yet to be reached because Muammar Al-Gaddafi reportedly refuses to sign a commitment involving less than €300 million (HRW 2009, p.32-34; EU Business 2009).

The last available data I could find is from 2009. There is no further information about the funding of these detention facilities in the post Gaddafi regime. The funds for the construction and operation (including training and weapons) are well documented, though: the Italian government.

However, to dispel any notions around lack of European involvement in the administration of these facilities, there is this blood chilling research at Gabriele Del Grande’s blog (I highly recommend reading it in its totality, since what Del Grande chronicles further expands understanding of the topic) 

In 2005, the former director of the Italian secret services (SISDe), Prefect Mario Mori, informed the Italian Parliament: “Undocumented migrants in Libya are caught like dogs” and put in centers so overcrowded that “policemen must wear a dust mask over their mouth because of the nauseating odours”. But the Ministry of Interior already knew it. Actually since 2004 the Italian police is training their Libyan colleagues in fighting immigration. And a few high officials of the Ministry of Interior, have visited the detention centers in Libya several times, including that in Kufrah. But silence was imposed over reality. The same hypocrisy has been shown by the European Union. In a report of 2004, the European Commission defined the conditions of detention camps in Libya “difficult” but in the end “acceptable in the light of the general context”. Three years later, in May 2007, a delegation of Frontex visited the south of Libya, including the prison of Kufrah, to lay the foundations for a future cooperation. Guess what they wrote: “We appreciated both the diversity as the vastness of the desert”.

I often refer to the European Union as a “project of Empire”. For an Empire to exist, it necessitates subjugated bodies against whom the Empire sets its policies and whose resources are drained to be concentrated at the Empire’s belly, away from the countries originating them. The Empire is always established in an “us vs. them” dichotomy, with “them” never allowed “in”, to belong. Further more, the Empire is established as a system of discipline for the subjugated. Torture, rape, degradation, enslavement: all of these and more have been historically used in its construction. What sets this EU apart from older Imperial projects is that nowadays, instead of resorting to old methods of conquer, similar results can be achieved through neoliberal policies: financial aid for the construction of facilities and training, immigration policies, the administration of “outsiders” through Frontex, the “rescue operations” to maintain a veneer of respectability in upholding the myth of human rights.

And yet, if you’ve read this far, I can only ask: who set up the necessary structures for these gang rapes to take place? Who trained the personnel? Who had an in depth overview of the degrading conditions of migrants being held in these detention camps? And above all, under the pretense of whose protection are these gang rapes and tortures allowed to occur?

New findings point to Italy’s responsibility in mass death of migrants near Lampedusa

via The Malta Independent “Lampedusa tragedy: Did Italy let migrant boat enter Maltese SAR zone to avoid responsibility?

In an interview conducted by L’Espresso journalist Fabrizio Gatti, Dr Mohammad Jammo testified that he had called RCC Rome at 11am and warned that the boat was slowly sinking, having been holed by machinegun fire from a Libyan patrol boat the night before.[…]

One plausible theory that could explain what happened is a political dispute between Malta and Italy. Dr Jammo insists that he first got through to the Italians at 11am. At this time the migrant boat was inside the Libyan SAR zone, which is not well patrolled. Besides, according to Dr Jammo, the Libyans had fired on the migrant boat, so a Libyan rescue was probably out of the question. The Italian ITS Libra and Guardia Costiera and Guardia di Finanza boats stationed in Lampedusa were the closest assets and could have been sent to help. They could have reached the migrant boat in about an hour-and-a-half. But the lack of orders for them to do so by Italy could signify a refusal by Rome to get involved. The Armed Forces of Malta, on the other hand have never clarified if they asked for help from the Italians. It is understood that the general feeling of the Maltese authorities is that Italy was reluctant to help the migrants.

For those new to this blog, in the EU, “migrant” is nothing but a code word for Black and Brown people who are trying to reach borders without visas. They are usually referred to as “asylum seekers”, “refugees” or, in some rare cases, “illegal immigrants”. More about this language here.

As per the article linked above (which I strongly recommend reading), it seems that again, we are at the beginning stages of the ongoing and well documented shifting of responsibilities of mass deaths of undocumented migrants in the Mediterranean. 

From the archives on this very blog:

May 2011: Dozens of African migrants were left to die in the Mediterranean after a number of European military units apparently ignored their cries for help.

April 2, 2012: A catalogue of failures by Nato warships and European coastguards led to the deaths of dozens of migrants left adrift at sea.

Bonus long post I wrote at Tiger Beatdown, February 2012 with (an incomplete) list of failures in saving immigrant lives by Frontex.

Bonus 2, October 4th, 2013: on the “gender gap” in the Lampedusa death toll.

On December 20th, I posted about Italy’s treatment of the survivors of the Lampedusa boat tragedy. I used the word “torture” to describe the systematic abuse that the survivors are subjected to. On a follow up post on January 3rd, I posted about another rescue operation in the Mediterranean that involved more than 200 people in a sinking boat. Back then I wrote this:

There is a very strong focus on “exporting” the European version of human rights while at the same time refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants inside European borders are not afforded basic human dignity. A lot of the rhetoric about “promoting and exporting human rights” is merely a marketing device devoid of praxis when it applies within EU member States and the necessary accountability that would somewhat legitimize those “intentions” stated in the document.

How many more instances do we need to document before these deaths are acknowledged as both systematic and systemic within a political project that bases its marketing on “promotion of human rights”? Whose human rights are protected and who isn’t acknowledged as human enough to be cared for? I’ve asked this many times before but it bears repeating, in this political project known as The European Union, whose lives are worth cherishing?

More than 200 migrants have been rescued from an overcrowded boat at risk of sinking in rough waters in the Mediterranean Sea, the Italian navy said Thursday.

Italian navy rescues 233 migrants from Mediterranean boat - CNN.com

From the article:

The boat, which measured only 10 meters (33 feet) long, was carrying 233 people without life jackets, the navy statement said.[…]

The migrants, from Eritrea, Nigeria, Somalia, Pakistan, Zambia and Mali, were all moved safely, the statement said.

After being transferred to a frigate, the migrants will be taken to the port of Augusta, on the Italian island of Sicily, where they are expected to arrive Thursday evening, it said.

What the article doesn’t mention is that once these migrants arrive in Italy, they will be met with conditions like the ones described here, including hosing in ice cold temperature and other torture practices. 

Last week, nine immigrants sew their mouths shut to demand release. From the article

Nine illegal immigrants detained in Italy have stitched their lips together with thread from their bedsheets in a protest to demand their release from what they say are intolerable living conditions.

The protest, which started at a centre near Rome on Saturday, came days after video emerged of immigrants at another camp standing naked in the cold to be sprayed for scabies. It drew new calls for the closure of detention centres and for changes to immigration laws.

Using a needle improvised from a cigarette lighter, four Tunisians each made a single stitch to join their lips in the middle, Filiberto Zaratti, a lawmaker who visited the protesters, told Reuters.

Five Moroccans later imitated the gesture, according to the centre’s manager, speaking on Italian television. The protesters asked to be let out of the centre, the manager said.

The migrants have now allowed medical personnel to remove the stitches due to health risk associated with hunger strike but other protests are currently spreading across Italy due to the appalling human rights violations of undocumented migrants in detention centers.

Italy denounced for hosing down migrants in cold

via Italy denounced for hosing down migrants in cold - The Malta Independent:

Italy’s government has promised an investigation into the treatment of migrants after a video was taken of naked refugees being hosed down and disinfected in cold weather at a holding center on the southern island of Lampedusa.

The video, which aired Monday on state-run RAI television, showed a dozen male migrants who lined up in a warehouse, then stripped to be hosed down with a solution to treat scabies. One of the migrants told RAI that men and women had been disinfected this way a few days ago.

In another article, at ANSAMed, there are more details of this torture of migrants. Yes, I am using the word “torture” because hosing down migrants in a detention center perfectly fits this definition: The action or practice of inflicting severe pain on someone as a punishment or to force them to do or say something, or for the pleasure of the person inflicting the pain. From the article:

[Italian House Speaker Laura Boldrini’s] comments came after the TG2 evening newscast on State broadcaster Rai on Monday night aired footage shot with a cell phone by a Syrian detainee, showing dozens of men and women being forced to strip publicly outdoors in the winter weather before guards hosed them down with disinfectants.

"We are being treated like animals," the author of the footage told TG2. "Men and women undergo the same humiliation every three days to cure scabies, which we caught since we came to the detention center”.[…]

Critics of Italy’s migrant detention centers say they are being run like sub-standard prisons.

An October investigative report on the Lampedusa holding center by L’Espresso news magazine documented people being made to eat and sleep on the ground, covered only with paper blankets in the freezing weather, children catching head lice, and stray dogs being allowed to wander about, urinating on the refugees’ clothes and luggage.

European version of “human rights” as it is applied to undocumented migrants. On June 25th 2012, The European Union released its “Strategic Framework and Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy" (link to PDF). From the document (emphasis mine):

The European Union is founded on a shared determination to promote peace and stability and to build a world founded on respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law. These principles underpin all aspects of the internal and external policies of the European Union. 

Human rights are universally applicable legal norms. Democracy is a universal aspiration. Throughout the world, women and men demand to live lives of liberty, dignity and security in open and democratic societies underpinned by human rights and the rule of law. Sustainable peace, development and prosperity are possible only when grounded upon respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law. […]

The EU is aware of these challenges and determined to strengthen its efforts to ensure that human rights are realised for all. The EU will continue to throw its full weight behind advocates of liberty, democracy and human rights throughout the world.

The EU seeks to prevent violations of human rights throughout the world and, where violations occur, to ensure that victims have access to justice and redress and that those responsible are held to account. To this end, the EU will step up its efforts to promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law across all aspects of external action.

There is a very strong focus on “exporting” the European version of human rights while at the same time refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants inside European borders are not afforded basic human dignity. A lot of the rhetoric about “promoting and exporting human rights” is merely a marketing device devoid of praxis when it applies within EU member States and the necessary accountability that would somewhat legitimize those “intentions” stated in the document. As it is, the document becomes a neocolonial mechanism to intervene around the world any time European interests might be in jeopardy while the people who hail from the countries where the EU intervenes are systematically abused within EU borders.

An update on the Italian woman who was forced to give birth

Yesterday I posted about the Italian woman who was forced into a C Section because, according to British Child Services, she had suffered a mental breakdown. In my post, I said that I had heard similar stories about migrant women (not the forcible birth but the involvement of Child Services because their motherhood skills are questioned more often than their White counterparts). I had no data about the Italian woman in question so I did not feel comfortable speculating about her ethnicity. However, for the past 24 hours I have been monitoring a number of Italian news sites in the hopes that more info about the woman becomes available. English speaking media is behind its Italian counterpart in updating the development of this story. A moment ago I finally found what I had suspected. Via Repubblica (translation from Italian mine):

“I want my daughter back, I am suffering like an animal. I was forced into a C-Section without my consent. The day of the forced delivery I thought they were moving me from one room to another while I kept saying I wanted to return to Italy. Then I was sedated and when I woke up, she was gone. She was taken away from me.

Speaking like a wounded mother, Alessandra Panchieri, 35 years old, from Chainciano. She is the woman who suffers from bipolar disorder whose daughter was taken away in Essex, England. […]

The baby’s father, who is from Senegal, and an American relative of mine, Indra Armstrong, were both available to take care of the child but the British social services have ignored this. Why? Why did nobody help me?”

And there you have it. The baby’s father, who was willing and available to take care of the child, is from Senegal.

ETA: On Twitter, Rosa linked me to the court ruling. As I had speculated, turns out the father was an undocumented migrant as well:

Her mother is A. She is an Italian national. Her father is B who is a Senegalese national, he is currently living in Italy. His situation is unclear, as I understand it he travelled there under a student visa, at least on one version, and is an over-stayer. He certainly has no status in Italy and he is unable, as I understand it, as a result of his status, either to leave Italy at all , and is certainly not able to come to the United Kingdom. 

This is what happens to children of color born from an undocumented parent. Given away like the spoils of the Empire, to decide their fate and future. 

"The hundreds who lost their lives off Lampedusa yesterday are Italian citizens as of today," Prime Minister Enrico Letta said on Friday - an official day of mourning for the victims.

EUobserver.com / Justice & Home Affairs / Italy grants citizenship to Lampedusa dead

The undocumented migrants who died in Lampedusa have been granted Italian citizenship. A noble gesture, one would say. However, the survivors, face this (from the link):

But for the survivors, crammed in a refugee centre hosting four times more people than its normal capacity, the situation remains dire. Under a law passed by the previous centre-right government, “clandestine immigrants” are considered illegal and have to pay fines of up to €5,000.

The death toll from a stricken boat off the coast of Italy carrying 500 African migrants has risen to 194 as rescue operations continue, officials have said. By nightfall on Sunday, 83 bodies had been retrieved, including that of one child. At least 150 more are believed to still be missing as many are likely trapped in the wreckage 47 metres below the surface.

Lampedusa boat-wreck death toll rises - Europe - Al Jazeera English

An update on the death toll of migrants in Lampedusa, Italy. (Content warning at the link for photos).

Previous posts on this still developing catastrophe here and here about a fisherman prevented from rescuing people.

From the link at Al Jazeera:

Nearly all of the 155 survivors of Thursday’s shipwreck - the vast majority of them men - remain at the island’s refugee centre.

My post about the lack of a feminist analysis in response to the plight of undocumented migrants in view of Lampedusa’s mass death toll.

A fisherman who rescued 47 people after a migrant boat sank off the coast of Lampedusa, Italy, says coastguards stopped him saving more people. He claims rescue workers refused to take people from his full boat so he rescue more, because it was against their protocol. More than 300 people are thought to have died in the disaster

Lampedusa boat sinking: fishermen ‘prevented’ from rescuing migrants - video | World news | theguardian.com

See previous posts about the ongoing tragedy in Lapedusa, Italy:

And here a post about the “corporate practices” (i.e. protocols) that rule the administration of migrant lives in Europe. These “protocols” place corporate “efficiency” above human life.

The Italian government has ordered an investigation into slurs on rightwing websites against the country’s first black minister, a case that has put Italy’s racial problems back under the spotlight.

Italy to investigate racist remarks against first black minister | World news | guardian.co.uk

You know, Europe, “the continent of human rights” and similar assorted empty rhetoric, once again showing its bare ass. More from the article:

Cecile Kyenge, an eye doctor and Congo-born Italian citizen, was named integration minister in the new government of Prime Minister Enrico Letta on Saturday. She is one of seven women in the government.

Since then, she has been the subject of taunts not only on neo-fascist websites but the butt of race-tinged remarks by a politician of the Northern League, which has been allied in the past with former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi.

Equal opportunities minister Josefa Idem ordered an investigation by the National Anti-Discrimination Office into websites that called Kyenge a “Congolese monkey”, “Zulu”, “the black anti-Italian”, and other slurs.

This isn’t just some internet thugs leaving the usual offensive racist remarks we’ve all seen pretty much everywhere. Northern League European parliamentarian Mario Borghezio made references to a “bonga bonga government” because of Kyenge’s heritage.

I’m outraged by the normalcy that seemed to have spread to everyone like contagion. I am scandalised by the silence of Europe that has just received the Nobel Peace Prize and yet is staying silent in the face of a massacre that has the numbers of a true war. I’m becoming more convinced that European policy on immigration considers this offering of human lives to be a way to restrict the flows of people, or maybe a deterrent. But, if for these people, the voyage on the boats is still the only possibility of hope, I believe that their death at sea must be a reason for Europe to feel shamed and dishonoured.

Vatican told to pay taxes as Italy tackles budget crisis

via The Independent:

After several years of scandal in which the Catholic Church has faced allegations of financial impropriety, paedophile priests and rumours of plots to kill the Pope, the Vatican is now facing a new €600m-a-year tax bill as Rome seeks to head off European Commission censure over controversial property tax breaks enjoyed by the Church.

As the EC heads closer to officially condemning the fiscal perks enjoyed by the Catholic Church and introduced by the Berlusconi administration, Prime Minister Mario Monti has written to the Competition Commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, saying that the Vatican will resume property tax, or Ici, payments.

Mr Almunia said in 2010 that the exemption amounted to state aid that might breach EU competition law.

Now, if every government told them to stop meddling in the usual restrictive and oppressive politics that made them infamous in most of Latin America, we might be on the path to some change.

The Far Right Link Between Norwegian Killer Breivik and Florence Gunman Casseri

via International Business Times, an excellent piece about the commonalities between all right wing fundamentalists currently operating in Europe. From the link:

Florence far-right gunman Gianluca Casseri, who shot dead two Africans Tuesday and Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik may have more in common than expected, experts on far-right movements point out.

Described as an expert on right-wing European culture, the 50-year-old alleged member of far-right Casas Pound movement was also passionate about fantasy and conspiracy books. Its literary magazine La Soglia or The Threshold included monographic issues about Dracula, the author of The Lord of the Rings J.R. Tolkien, and H.P. Lovecraft.

This long-time engagement with fantasy genre is shared by Breivik, who killed 77 people in a twin attack in Oslo. “Breivik’s manifesto shows a fascination and an obsession with the fantasy genre, especially with Tolkien and Lovecraft,” Matthew Goodwin, experts on far-right extremism, told the International Business Times UK.

"It’s part of a wider discourse. Far-right movements are obsessed with narratives that put emphasis on apocalyptic scenario, in which they portray themselves as heroes."[…]

The Florence racist shooting also reflects “the neglected challenge of far right violence”, according to Goodwin.

"It’s interesting to notice that Florence shooting took place the same day as Belgium one, but it did not rise the same attention from the media," he argues. Before Norway, there was a tendency among European politicians to downplay far-right violence because it does not fit in focus with Al Qaeda and the anti-Islamist narrative post 9/11.

Read the rest here.

Worth noting, the BBC took seven hours (SEVEN!) to report the killing of the Senegalese men in Italy. As the writer points out, it seems that far right violence is not perceived as a challenge that requires urgent measures.

Far-right sympathiser Gianluca Casseri, 50, kills African migrants before shooting himself dead

Florence gunman shoots Senegalese street vendors dead | World news | guardian.co.uk

From the link:

A lone gunman with extreme rightwing sympathies has gone on a shooting spree in Florence, killing two Senegalese street vendors and wounding three others before killing himself.

You’ve probably have all seen this already as it happened a couple of hours ago, but just in case, there’s more at the link.

I swear I can’t anymore.

My latest for Global Comment about the EU, democracy and the rule of financial corporations:

There is hunger in Europe. For the first time since World War II, this hunger and extreme poverty are not limited to pockets of exclusion in Eastern nations but running across the continent. Greece, Italy, Spain are in international media almost daily with depictions of hardships, soaring unemployment and deprivation. The European summer saw the birth of “the indignant ones”, a wave of protests sweeping these nations and to an extent, replicated across France. These “indignant ones” clashed violently with police at the peak of the Greek anti austerity protests, expressing a collective discontent that went, for the most part, ignored. Now, two months after these clashes, the European Union is still not responding with the haste that would be expected to aid its own citizens. A European Union that was once portrayed as “strength in unity” is now more fragmented and disunited than ever since its creation.

Read the rest here.