Italian Far-Right Sectors Link Immigrants to Terrorism

Voices in European politics and media exploit misguided fears that refugees, who risk their lives to travel to Europe, could hide terrorists. The arrest of a Moroccan man in Milan, Italy, on Wednesday, suspected to be linked to the attack of Museum Bardo in Tunisia, is being used by sectors of the Italian political and media class to link North African immigrants to terrorism. Following the arrest, the police revealed to the press that Touil Abdelmajid, 22, had crossed the Mediterranean sea on a migrant boat in February.  

RELATED: How Europe Created Its Own Refugee Crisis 

The information was immediately exploited to sow fear that Islamist militants hide among the thousands of refugees who try to reach Italian shores, as three conservative parties called on Minister of Interior Angelino Alfano to resign: the Five Star movement led by Beppe Grillo, Italian Force of former President Silvio Berlusconi and the far-right Northern League. Northern League leader Matteo Salvini posted on Facebook: "The terrorist arrested today in Milan arrived in Italy earlier this year on a BOAT from Tunisia. 

A danger that the League has been denouncing for long. Alfano, quit!" The conservative media also quickly joined the fray, such as the daily Libero Quotidiano: "Here is the proof" the paper claimed. "Maybe now, finally, journalists, politicians, unequivocal intellectuals and preachers of all sorts will put this in their heads: on the boats that carry thousands and thousands of immigrants, are also included dangerous and criminal elements, as well as affiliated to various terrorist organizations." NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also claimed a few days before the arrest that Islamist militants might be attempting to "blend in among the migrants" as they try to reach Europe. 

However, the Moroccan refugee had not been convicted over terrorism charges, a crucial piece of information systematically omitted in such argumentations. In fact, the Milan attorney general found that the suspect was in Milan on the day of the March 18 Tunisian attack. Italian authorities only arrested Abdelmajid on the grounds of a Tunisian-launched international warrant, otherwise they only had an expulsion warrant against him for entering illegally the Italian territory, highlighted daily Leggo. 

RELATED: The Human Face of Migration: Searching for Safety Abroad

 In February, the country was already feverishly speculating over the "terrorist threat" after the Islamic State group claimed it was "at the doors" of Rome, the Italian capital. The Italian media reacted in a frenzy after an alleged Islamic State group document published in the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph claimed the group’s leaders vowed to "flood the North of Libya with soldiers in order to cross the Mediterranean sea as migrants." The latest attacks in Europe, from Paris to Copenhagen, however, have been perpetrated by European citizens, and not by immigrants. 

This content was originally published by teleSUR at the following address:


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