Report: 59 Bangladeshis attacked by right wing party in Italy since 2011

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A judicial investigation has revealed at least 59 Bangladeshi nationals have been attacked in Italy by Forza Nuova, a far right political group, since 2011.

TRTWorld, a news portal based in Turkey, made the disclosure in its report on Sunday, which also revealed the sad tale of abuse of Kartik Chondro, 27, a victim of Forza Nuova. On October 29 last year, Kartik finished his shift as a dishwasher at a restaurant in Rome. As Kartik was talking with his coworkers at his workplace, a group of men rushed towards him.

Kartik was quickly surrounded and beaten by the mob until he became unconscious. The culprits were shouting racial slurs at him during the attack. Later, investigations revealed that the man was attacked by supporters of the Forza Nuova.

Kartik’s assault was not the first one against the Bangladeshi community in Rome, but its sheer brutality has unsettled many Italians. Around 1,40,000 Bangladeshi nationals are currently living in Italy, and Rome’s Bangladeshi community is made of at least 36,000 people.

Immigrants no longer welcome?

Immigrants began to settle in Rome in the 1980s and 1990s, benefited by the country’s former policies that had easier immigration rules. However, the recent wave of migrants is not being welcomed in Italy with the same spirit.

The country, struggling with financial instability and widespread unemployment, now perceives the influx of the new arrivals as an economic burden. Deadly conflicts in the Middle East and in Africa have pushed tens of thousands of people out of their homes. Italy has become the epicenter of this migration wave in Europe.

In 2016, 181,000 refugees arrived in Italy, according to the Italian government, while in 2017, after signing a deal with Libya, the figure fell to 119,000. Like other electoral campaigns in Western Europe, immigration has become one of the most debated topics in Italy’s recently held elections.

A recent poll shows that 59 percent of Italians feel threatened by the presence of immigrants, and 11 percent condone, to some extent. Forza Novua invokes the nostalgia of Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime and combines it with Catholic fundamentalism. Migrants and refugees in Italy are feeling at risk ever since the far-right deployed a hateful anti-immigrant rhetoric across the country.

This article was first published in Dhaka Tribune.