Raise of crime, violence, and especially rape are fuelling anti-immigrant sentiment in Italy ahead of elections due early next year, when problems caused by illegal mass migration are firmly on the top the political agenda.
Anti mass-migration politicians accuse the center-left government of failing to guarantee the border controls, allowing flows of Africans to enter the country illegally over the past four years, with a steep rise of arrival last year. Different estimates claim between 600 000 and one million illegals to land on Italian coasts.
“There are too many of them. I will send quite a few home,” Matteo Salvini, the head of the Lega Nord, wrote on Twitter this week after police said a Bangladeshi migrant had been arrested in Rome on suspicion of raping a Finnish baby-sitter.
The Rome case occurred two weeks after a young couple of Polish tourists ended in hospital after robbery and gang rape by four African migrants, three of them claimed being minors, on a beach in the Adriatic popular resort of Rimini.
The leader of the gang was named as a Congolese asylum-seeker who had been allowed to stay in Italy on humanitarian grounds. The other three were Moroccan brothers, and a a Nigerian.
“A gang of Maghreb worms,” said Georgia Meloni, head of the Fratelli d’Italia party, which is expected to be allied with the Lega Nord and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party at the election.
A recent opinion poll in La Repubblica newspaper showed 46% of Italians thought migrants represented a threat to their personal safety and to public order against 40% in the previous survey in February.