Saturday night’s rioting by North African immigrants in Milan has provoked new calls for tougher controls on illegal immigration from right-wing politicians in Italy.
The riots began after a 19-year-old Egyptian man was killed, apparently by a group of immigrants from South America.
Last year the Italian government introduced tough legislation, making it a felony to be an illegal immigrant or to help one.
“We have the laws,” said Italian Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa. “The problem is those working to prevent them being applied. There are judges and organisations who favour clandestinity, who seek to apply the principle that the more immigrants there are the better it is.”
The rioters clashed with police in the north eastern suburbs of Italy’s financial capital. The Egyptian man’s killers have not yet been found.
“We’re frightened,” said one woman, “but you have to go forward.”
“The authorities don’t want the immigrants to integrate,” said this man. “Because if people weren’t frightened they wouldn’t vote for them.”
Italian media say a climate of racial hatred between South Americans and North Africans has become established, while Milan’s deputy mayor Riccardo De Corato claimed certain districts had become “like the wild west”.