The ‚good‘ Sicilians – Report on Violence and Discrimination on the island

In a new report, the Observatory for Discrimination (og.: l’osservatorio sulle discriminazioni) „Noureddine Adnane“ in Palermo, the Association Borderline Sicilia and the palermitan Circolo Arci „Porco Rosso“ denounce the significant rise of racist incidences. The report collected and analyzed data on discriminating practices and actions in Palermo and the province between November 2017 and October 2018.

Palermo, June 3rd, 2019 – Attacks against migrants, People of Colour and those who oppose discriminating policies and practices occur in the forms of verbal or physical violence as well as illegitimate administrative practices.

Racist dynamics can be subtle and implicit: hidden in the banality of colloquial and slang-informed expressions which we are accustomed to, for instance; in the routine, dialectic discrimination of the phrase „I’m not a racist, but“, or in the dismissive practices of the agencies. Other times, however, as in the case of physical aggression, violence becomes obvious, tangible and brutal.

A development can be observed that has as its goal the construction of an interior identity opposed to an exterior one. In this respect, the „we-them“ binary, disguised behind the phrase „Italians first“, seems to be successful. Concurrently, a number of such categories and insults—„illegal“, „parasite“, „n*****“, as well as phantasms of irregularity and crime—have replaced the existing diversity of different ethnic groups as well as the concrete reality experienced by persons and groups from different geographic and cultural contexts on their escape. Instead of this concrete experience, stereotypes and prejudices essentialize difference as such.

In this on-going naturalization of prejudice, racism is no longer any sporadic episode but rather a structural and foundational element of our society. In this scenario—dominated by the dark tide, led by nebulous institutional powers—discourses and speech have concrete effects on the lives of people, foreigners or not. These effects extend as far as the worrying result that racist and discriminatory practices become socially accepted.

By strengthening the security regime to regulate migration and increasingly (juridically) attacking societal actors that take part in rescue missions at sea or admission and accommodation of migrants, the political direction of the current government has accelerated this process.

Hence, there are deep institutional roots to the racism we are witness to: because it originated in the statutory provisions and forms a close union with it—as in the security decree—, in the decisions of local administrations, in the guidelines for prevention of sea rescues, in the permanent public statements of politicians, who use social media in a bulimic and crime-fostering way.

The appendix to the report provides an overview of all the documented cases of discrimination registered in the media on the entire island of Sicily, between June 2018 and May 2019, aka during the first year of the Lega/Five Stars government.

The three organizations, in full knowledge of the fact that such an archive constitutes only the tip of the proverbial iceberg—below which lie all the other non-narrated and non-documented cases, silenced by the fear of retaliation—, voice their concern over the number of documented cases that have been collected across media and interviews with victims and witnesses of racist episodes.

To conclude the report, the Osservatorio Noureddine Adnane, Borderline Sicilia and the parlermitan Circolo Arci „Porco Rosso“ address:

  •  to the Italian parliament and the Italian government: • to the Italian parliament and the Italian government:

– the request of repealing decree 132 of 2018 on the conversion of the security decree, so that it becomes possible to deliberate on an immigration policy based on reception, solidarity and adherence to human rights;

– the request to establish a code of conduct to prevent discriminatory practices of functionaries;

  • to the regional government:

– the request to support the initiatives of the local agencies that implement immigration policy in accordance with constitutional norms;

  •  a plea to the President of the Republic of Italy to exercise his duty as guardian of the constitution concerning legislation that is discriminatory and in violation of human rights.

The report—available in full in the original Italian here—has been created with the financial help of LUSH Charity Pot and the work of the volunteers connected to the three organizations.

Osservatorio sulle discriminazioni razziali Noureddine Adnane

Mobile: 338 174 9722
E mail:
Web site:

Borderline Sicilia

Mobile: 339 658 6598
E mail:
Web site:

Arci Porco Rosso

Mobile: 338 921 7055
E mail:
Web site:

Translated by Christian Lamp