On December 12, Matteo Salvini, leader of the League and senator of the republic, was in Sicily, in Catania, where the hearing of the trial took place which sees him accused of kidnapping for having delayed the disembarkation of the irregular emigrants of the Gregoretti ship in 2019. By coincidence, the next day the BBC dedicated a reportage to Sicily.
Accompanied by photographic documentation, the report explains how the island has become a happy, joyful multicultural center thanks to the fact that thousands of young Africans, mainly from West African countries such as Nigeria, Senegal and Gambia, they have chosen it as their new home.
It is often forgotten, says the BBC, that while tens of thousands of Africans have passed through the island, passing through on their journey to Northern Europe, as many have instead decided to stay. Palermo in particular, “always a melting pot of cultures”, is fortunate to have a mayor, Leoluca Orlando, “pro-migrants” and for this reason the city has long been known and appreciated for its hospitality. “Over the years,” observes the author of the report, migrant journalist Ismail Einashe, “I have seen how much African culture has reshaped the city, from musical tastes to the popularity of African dances to food and even the hairstyles of young people. Sicilians “. “In no district of Palermo”, he continues, “the African presence is more evident than in that of Ballarò,
Following is a description of the evenings in Palermo, animated by African songs, drums and dances while in the bars of Ballarò you can drink spritz, but also cocktails that taste of mango, hibiscus, pineapple and ginger, and in the restaurants Sicilian and African dishes are served . At the market, then, next to the Italian stalls, there are those full of once unknown products, such as okra and sweet potatoes, and African women grill corn cobs: “A corner of Africa sprouts everywhere, from Nigerian women who sell soda, sweets and beer to Senegalese tailors who make African-style clothing ».
In addition to his own direct experience, Ismail Einashe drew on Italian sources to document himself, but in a very selective way: for example, the Terrelibere.org website, where it is possible to read an article entitled «Palermo. I will dance safer thanks to Africans ”, in which it is argued that immigrants have“ contributed positively to returning the historic center to the city ”; or L’Espresso, which in 2019 published the article “Palermo, the capital of hospitality: the great lesson of Sicily to all of Italy”, according to which Ballarò “lives again” thanks to the immigrants who denounce the extortionists of the mafia: ” an alternative model “.
In the L’Espresso article, however, it is said that the journalist Gianmauro Costa, a fervent supporter of the providential good influence of immigrants on Palermo, nevertheless set his novel “Black Market” in Ballarò, whose protagonist “is struggling with Black Ax, the new Nigerian mafia ». Just scroll through the Palermitan news to understand why. Eiye, an offshoot of Black Ax, manages the racket of trafficking, prostitution and drug dealing in Ballarò. This is also why violence is frequent in the neighborhood. Among the recent ones, one of the most serious involved dozens of people at the end of May: a maxi brawl between Italians and Africans mostly from Gambia armed with knives, sticks and shards of bottles that required the intervention of dozens of police vehicles. and police.
But Ismail Einashe does not mention these problems, much less speaks of the way in which the immigrants arrived in the city “which they have chosen as their new home”. Irregular, illegal, clandestine. Not once are these terms used in the service.
Yet many, if not all the foreigners who, according to the journalist, revive and normalize Palermo and Sicily by fighting the mafia and animating the life of once infrequent neighborhoods, have presumably landed in Italy without documents and visas, transported by an organization of traffickers. , and, if they still live in Italy, it is because they took their time declaring themselves refugees and filing an asylum request.
This is certainly the case of the Nigerian singer Chris Obehi, who arrived from Nigeria at the age of 17 “after having faced the dangerous route that passes through Libya” and who in many of his songs evokes the difficulties encountered in reaching Palermo. In one of his greatest hits he sings the crossing of the Mediterranean: a few unrelated words, the text, and a single sentence repeated and shouted over and over again: “We are not fish, we are not fish in the sea, but we are human”.
Almost incidentally, the BBC article notes that “a growing anti-migrant sentiment pervades the island.” Why are they irregular? Why do they use the expedient of calling themselves refugees to be included in the expensive reception program set up for them?
Why, when they leave, they mostly find no work except in black, since in Sicily the inactivity rate exceeds 52 percent and they also do not speak Italian and lack training? Why do they join the Nigerian mafias or other sectors of organized crime?
No. For the BBC, anti-migrant sentiment arises from the difficulties caused by the pandemic.