Italy: The recent arrival by the sea in Sicily and Calabria of a dozen or so migrants who tested positive for the virus causing Covid-19 caused several unpleasant and unworthy reactions.
In Amantea, a Calabrian citizen, residents protested against the arrival of 24 migrants, 13 of whom tested positive, claiming that their presence would increase the risk of a new Covid-19 epidemic and damage tourism.
Instead of reassuring public opinion about security measures and showing empathy towards migrants, the governor of Calabria, Jole Santelli, said "that those who bring Covid do not set foot on the Calabrian territory" and called for government intervention. Other elected officials, including parliamentarian Enza Bosso, the governor of Sicily Nello Musumeci, and the mayor of Brindisi, Puglia, have fuelled fears instead of calming them.
The only positive voice in this negative chorus was that of the mayor of Roccella Jonica - a city in Calabria that has welcomed 20 unaccompanied minors - who said that it is possible to manage the situation in total safety. The central government of Rome transferred the Covid-19 patients from Amantea to a military hospital but did not question the vision of those who portrayed people arriving by sea as diffusers of disease.
On Saturday 25th July, around 9pm, near the park of Santa Teresa, in Verona, while many families with children are enjoying the cool evening, a 45-year-old woman approaches a little girl and asks her age. She doesn't even give her time to answer, and punches her in the face. How come? Because the 12-year-old girl isn't wearing her mask. It's an absurd and senseless motivation, since they're both in an open-air, unassembled place. Immediately after throwing the punch, the woman is joined by the girl's parents, a couple of foreign nationals, who are in the vicinity and helplessly watch the scene.
The French police use their extensive powers of control and search in a discriminatory and abusive manner on children, boys and black and Arab men, Human Rights Watch writes in a report published today. Limiting these powers is essential to combat prejudice-based police practices, including racial or ethnic profiling, and to restore trust between police and population. The 44-page report, "They Talk To Us Like Dogs": Abusive Police Controls in France, (in French), describes unfounded police controls targeting minorities, including ten-year-old children, adolescents and adults. These checks often include an intrusive and humiliating body search and search for personal belongings.
Sekou, 14, who lives in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, said he had been checked at least six times.
You never see white children being checked. When I'm with my white friends, the police don't even look at them... They say 'liberté, égalité, fraternité', but there's no equality for that sort of thing.
Bulgaria and Slovakia: Forced quarantine for Roma in Bulgaria and Slovakia - both governments - the report says - have introduced mandatory quarantine for Roma settlements. Slovakia, military forces were called in to ensure compliance with the rules, when, the association stresses, the police would have been enough. In Bulgaria, however, more than 50 thousand Roma have been isolated from the rest of the country and have suffered serious food shortages.
Germany, Cyprus and Serbia: Asylum seekers, refugees and migrants from camps and shared housing have also been subject to selective quarantine," says Amnesty, while there have been "forced evictions" in France and Greece. For example, in Serbia, the authorities imposed a special regime "which focused selectively on government-run centres" housing refugees, migrants and asylum seekers. They imposed on them a "mandatory 24-hour strict quarantine" and employed military personnel to control the curfew. “
Despite advances in science and technology, despite social achievements or the fact that we like to talk about life on Mars and admire Parmitano walking in Space, this tendency to still look with distrust at those who are different, and to blame them for our evils, has not changed over time. What has happened in recent weeks will perhaps also explain why it is necessary to choose well which name to give to a new disease, avoiding ethnic or geographical references, but, above all, it has taken us by surprise in the darkness of our old, medieval fears.