Thousands march against 'anti-migrant', far-right Italian government

Thousands march against 'anti-migrant', far-right Italian government
Italians took to the streets in droves carrying signs reading 'Open the borders' and 'Black Lives Matter' to protest Italy's anti-migrant decree.
2 min read
11 November, 2018
Thousands protested in Rome during national demonstration against racism [Getty]

Several thousand protesters rallied in Rome on Saturday to protest the far-right Italian government and anti-migrant policies championed by Interior Minister Matteo Salvini.

They waved banners with slogans such as "Black lives matter" and "Welcome for all; Open the borders". Organisers said demonstrators came from 50 cities across the country to defend migrants against a new draconian decree on asylum rights. 

Italy's Senate, backed by Salvini's Northern League party and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, voted to clear the way to makes it easier to expel migrants and strip some of them of Italian citizenship.

The lower house of parliament now has until the end of November to approve the decree, which ends "humanitarian protection" residency permits -- a form of lower level asylum status in Italy. It also allows a fast-track of expulsions for "dangerous" asylum-seekers.

The UN refugee agency has said the decree does not provide enough guarantees for the vulnerable or those with particular needs such as victims of abuse or torture.

Salvini, whose far-right party forms a ruling coalition with the Five Star Movement, accuses other EU members of letting Italy shoulder an unfair share of migrants. 

Salvini, who is also deputy prime minister, has taken a hardline on migrants since the coalition came to power in June.

Salvini's government has been 
turning away ships with migrants rescued at sea since coming to power. 

More than 650,000 migrants have landed on Italy's shores since 2014. Rome has accused its EU peers of not taking in enough migrants landing along the Mediterranean.

In June, Salvini flew to Libya in a bid to block future migrant flows. His government struck a "friendship pact" with Libya soon after that reactivated a 2008 agreement to allow migrants to be sent back to Libya in exchange for foreign investment.

In August, Italy threatened to stop billions of euros of EU funding over the issue.

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