There are some crimes that come to define a moment in history. The brutal killing of a Nigerian street vendor in Italy may be one.
The public discourse over the murder of Alika Ogorchukwu, beaten to death in front of bystanders in the coastal town of Civitanova Marche, has laid bare the divisions in society as Italians prepare to vote in a snap election next month.
For some, the killing is the fault of years of hate-stoking anti-immigrant rhetoric from politicians on the right, with disturbing echoes of fascism. Others accuse the left of trying to make political capital out of a tragedy.
The bitter dispute matters because, according to current polling, it is the anti-immigration parties on the right of Italian politics that stand to win most support at the election and form the next government.
At the head of them all is Giorgia Meloni, leader of the hard-right Brothers of Italy, who is on track to become the country’s next prime minister after the September 25 vote. It would mark a radical shift in Italian politics, posing potential risks to the country’s economy after a period of stability under outgoing Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s steadying influence. There are also fears a right-wing coalition could weaken European unity at a sensitive time.
Meloni’s critics say the world should wake up to just how extreme her views really are, warning of a return to the dark days of 1930s fascism. Media coverage pointing out that Italy’s new government should be sworn in around the time of the 100th anniversary of Mussolini’s March on Rome has reinforced the point. [Continue reading…]