'Immigrants Are Bringing the Coronavirus!' Is Racist Rhetoric Getting Out of Hand in Italy?

Published February 26th, 2020 - 10:07 GMT
'Immigrants Are Bringing the Coronavirus!' Is Racist Rhetoric Getting Out of Hand in Italy?
Many Italian commentators took the chance to attack the governments' immigration policies, linking immigrants to the widespread of the virus. (Shutterstock)

Italy's Former Deputy Prime Minister and right-wing politician Matteo Salvini has been widely condemned for his remarks after he blamed the coronavirus outbreak on the Italian government's "open borders policies," although many have also echoed his stance.

Salvini's statements seem to play on the public fears of the novel coronavirus, conforming with what some have called growing racist rhetoric against immigrants, especially toward people of Asian origins, accusing them of "bringing the virus."

Translation: "The Ministry of Interior has allowed 200 people to enter the country. The governor of Sicily Musumeci is right, at a time like this, the government can't keep allowing hundreds of other immigrants. Europe should wake up and take responsibility."

Salvini's attacks against immigrants have intensified since the outbreak of the coronavirus in Italy, which has the largest number of cases outside of Asia with almost 300 confirmed cases and 11 victims.

Even though authorities have not yet revealed details on how the near-epidemic disease has made its way to Italy, many Italian commentators took the chance to attack the government's immigration policies, linking immigrants to the widespread of the virus.

One social media users went on to blame the virus on third world countries, warning of "other potential viruses" if the immigration influx continues.

Reactions have also made their way offline and in some cases have been violent.

A viral video showed a Filipino man being beaten in a supermarket by an Italian citizen who thought he was Chinese.

Translation: "A Filipino gentleman mistaken for a Chinese man was beaten in the face in a supermarket. Forced to justify himself: 'I'm Filipino, I'm not Chinese.' We are now mad."

In their efforts to tackle the coronavirus surge in the country, Italian authorities have locked down 11 towns and canceled multiple gathering events, including the well-known Venice Festival.


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