The Arrest of the Muslim-Loving Mayor of Riace

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Thousands of Italians, migrants rally for accused 'refugee mayor'

Instead of housing refugees into segregated reception centres, the mayor contacted the Italian emigrants to open their old homes. At its peak, the town of 1,500 hosted 500 refugees and asylum seekers from 20 countries.

Protesters believe the investigation against Lucano to be political, and came to express solidarity with the mayor and the idea he represents.

The mayor was put under house arrest October 2 as the state accuses him of facilitating “marriages of convenience”.

In a wiretapped conversation, he’s heard talking about ways of obtaining a residency permit for a Nigerian woman who has been denied international protection three times. He is also accused of irregularities in allocating contracts for rubbish collection services run by refugees.

The arrest came after a year-long investigation into the management of funds for refugees in the town, which saw the mayor investigated for racketeering, embezzlement and fraud, alongside 31 others. A preliminary examination judge did not find enough evidence to support those charges.

Riace's history with refugees starts in 1998, when more than 200 Kurds arrived on its rugged beach on the Ionic coast and were spontaneously hosted by residents. [Ylenia Gostoli/Al Jazeera]

Riace’s history with refugees starts in 1998, when more than 200 Kurds arrived on its rugged beach on the Ionic coast and were spontaneously hosted by residents. YLENIA GOSTOLI/AL JAZEERA

Morsal is 17 and from Afghanistan. She arrived via Turkey and the Mediterranean seven years ago and now goes to school and speaks perfect Italian. The banner she''s writing in preparation for the demonstration reads 'We are all Mimmo Lucano.' [Ylenia Gostoli/Al Jazeera]Morsal is 17 and from Afghanistan. She arrived via Turkey and the Mediterranean seven years ago and now goes to school and speaks perfect Italian. The banner she”s writing in preparation for the demonstration reads ‘We are all Mimmo Lucano.’ YLENIA GOSTOLI/AL JAZEERA

A virtuous circle was established in Riace as jobs were created for refugees and locals alike, the first employed in local handicrafts, and the second in activities like language teaching. For the past few weeks, artisan shops in town have been shut in protest to the town not receiving funding for the past two years. [Ylenia Gostoli/Al Jazeera]A virtuous circle was established in Riace as jobs were created for refugees and locals alike, the first employed in local handicrafts, and the second in activities like language teaching. For the past few weeks, artisan shops in town have been shut in protest to the town not receiving funding for the past two years. YLENIA GOSTOLI/AL JAZEERA

Another resident who was preparing for the afternoon protest, Saibou Sabitiou, from Togo, has lived in Riace since race riots in nearby Rosarno led to what has been termed 'ethnic cleansing' of the town. 'Thanks to Mimmo Lucano, I can work here and send money home, so my child can go to school.' [Ylenia Gostoli/Al Jazeera]

Thousands of demonstrators left early in the morning to get to the remote village from all over Italy. [Ylenia Gostoli/Al Jazeera]

Thousands of demonstrators left early in the morning to get to the remote village from all over Italy. YLENIA GOSTOLI/AL JAZEERA
Refugees who live in the town were at the forefront of the demonstration, shouting 'Freedom for Mimmo.' [Ylenia Gostoli/Al Jazeera]

Refugees who live in the town were at the forefront of the demonstration, shouting ‘Freedom for Mimmo.’ YLENIA GOSTOLI/AL JAZEERA
The march set off from the town's central square. Among the organisations taking part were trade unions, anti-racism and anti-mafia and migrant rights groups. Parliamentarian Laura Boldrini was also present and the famous writer Roberto Saviano expressed his support, among others. [Ylenia Gostoli/Al Jazeera]
The march set off from the town’s central square. Among the organisations taking part were trade unions, anti-racism and anti-mafia and migrant rights groups. Parliamentarian Laura Boldrini was also present and the famous writer Roberto Saviano expressed his support, among others. YLENIA GOSTOLI/AL Mayors from other small towns across Italy took part. 'Receiving refugees is not only a moral duty, it''s an opportunity to revitalise our towns,' said Gabriele Abbaterusso, mayor of a town near Lecce. [Ylenia Gostoli/Al Jazeera]Mayors from other small towns across Italy took part. ‘Receiving refugees is not only a moral duty, it”s an opportunity to revitalise our towns,’ said Gabriele Abbaterusso, mayor of a town near Lecce. YLENIA GOSTOLI/AL JAZEERAAmong participants were asylum seekers and refugees from other towns and cities. 'He defends the right cause,' said Ibrahim, from Mali. [Ylenia Gostoli/Al Jazeera]
Among participants were asylum seekers and refugees from other towns and cities. ‘He defends the right cause,’ said Ibrahim, from Mali. YLENIA GOSTOLI/AL JAZEERA

One thought on “The Arrest of the Muslim-Loving Mayor of Riace”

  1. “It’s a moral duty”? Who says? Prove it.
    Western Civilization cannot save the third world. It is simply impossible, regardless of any “good intentions” proclaimed.
    “Immigrants revitalize towns”? Who says? Prove it.
    Moving moslem invaders into towns and supporting them with tax money is not revitalization. It is a black hole of death and destruction.

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