Postcard from... Rome


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The Independent Online

The impression here in Italy that the wheels are falling off grew stronger yesterday, Black Friday. While a group of orphaned African refugees were turned away from the reception centre they had come to regard as home, and a baying crowd of locals threatened and insulted them, nationwide strikes and protests left many cities choking in tear gas. The lucky ones with jobs walked home because there were no trains or buses.

A common refrain you hear from veteran observers of Italy’s myriad problems is: “It’ll have to get a lot worse here before it gets better.”  Which begs the obvious question, “how much worse?”  With youth employment approaching 50 per cent, and the poor of Rome’s run-down suburb of Tor Sapienza being told by racist politicians to blame the migrants in the local holding centre for their woes, it hardly bears thinking about.

Northern League MEP, Mario Borghezio – a man that UKIP had to dissociate itself from – and neo-fascist group CasaPound were out in strength yesterday, egging on the locals, and blaming a few dozen black refugees for all the impoverished area’s problems. As one official at the migrant centre said: “This is a war of the poor against the poor.”

Things may yet get a great deal worse.