The current surge of migration into Italy has brought with it an alarming increase in criminality. The following article discusses the disproportionate amount of crime committed by immigrants in Italy, and its effect on the native Italian population.
Rapes, fights, “cultural” crimes: The criminal immigration that frightens Italy
June 17, 2022
The violent side of immigration from sexual crimes to attacks on police: “In Italy, a stable presence of the foreign component”
by Francesca Bernasconi and Rosa Scognamiglio
Women and girls molested or raped in the middle of the street. Police officers and Carabinieri punched or threatened with knives. And girls mistreated or killed by their own relatives because they rejected the traditions of their own culture and wanted to live in the Western style. These are the crimes and attacks that appear on the news pages and involve criminal foreigners. And the phenomenon of criminal immigration, arising simultaneously with the arrival in Italy of social and cultural groups from various countries in the world, a phenomenon which, from the 1970s, has transformed the peninsula into an immigration state. But how has this trend transformed the criminal panorama?
The presence of different social, ethnic, and cultural groups inevitably brings about a transformation of criminal-specific points, as explained to Il Giornale by the criminologist Francesca Capozza, author of the book Criminal Immigration, which analyzes the phenomenon, showing the face of foreign crime in Italy. “You see the stable presence of the foreign connection that takes the form of organized crime, within that municipality, of terrorism, as well as culturally-motivated crimes”.
The numbers of foreign crimes
Immigration is not synonymous with criminality. It’s the opposite. Beginning in the 1970s, however, in our country, an increase in the arrival of people from other parts of the world with different customs and habits has been recorded. In addition to people who migrate legally, there are those who migrate illegally. This new movement has brought about a change in crime because, in addition to Italian crime, there is added the foreign component, which has gone on to change the general panorama of criminality and security.
The statistics, reported in the XIII Report of the Antigone Association on conditions of detention, tell of a rise in the number of foreigners present in Italian jails, which, beginning in the early 1990s, has undergone an “unstoppable” increase. Now, according to the data from the Justice Ministry, updated on May 31 2022, detained foreigners make up 17,136, of a total of 57,067 people in jail: a percentage that slightly surpasses 30%, as also confirmed by Francesca Capozza, who speaks of official data “which do not record, therefore, any unverified, subsequent involvement.” In the large cities, however, this percentage has risen so much that, according to what is specified in Il Giornale by counselor Riccardo De Corato, “in Milan, over 70% of the prison population of San Vittore is composed of immigrants.”
It is necessary, however, to point out that among the foreign detainees, the percentage of illegal migrants, reported in the Antigone report, is “between 60% and 80% depending on the type of crime. Not only that: “Almost all of the migrants who commit crimes have previous arrests,” points out Counselor De Corato. “I believe many of the illegals present in Italy are fleeing their own country of origin because they evidently have unfinished business with the justice system; they probably can’t walk around free or they risk heavy sentences. Otherwise, you cannot explain the motive that makes them prefer to pay money to the smugglers, risking their lives at sea, rather than reach Italy by other means. I do not believe that they are all fleeing from war.”
These percentages refer to criminality in general. But the activity of the foreign component varies according to the type of crimes committed. The XIII Antigone Report of 2017 connected the presence in jail of foreign criminals mostly to property crimes, concerning drugs, and connected to prostitution. “The type of crime mostly committed by them,” Dr. Capozza explained to Il Giornale, concerns “crimes against property (27%, in particular, thefts and robberies), against persons (31%, particularly deliberate personal injuries), violations of drug laws (about 31%).” On the other hand, the percentage of foreigners detained for Mafia-type crimes is low.
Rapes and sexual molestations
It was shortly after dawn on August 9, 2021 when a 26-year-old South American-Italian was surprised from behind, dragged by the arm, and raped in an excavation ditch for water pipes in a construction site at Cascina Gobba, just steps away from the San Raffaele Hospital, by a 31-year-old Egyptian without a regular residence permit. On the other hand, last December 6, a young female commuter was attacked on the Milan-Varese train by two young men in their early 20s. The first, who was reportedly the “lookout”, is an Italian with drug addiction problems; the other — the material perpetrator of the attempted rape — is a Moroccan with a prior police record and is illegally in Italy. And then the horror of New Years’ Eve: nine young girls were molested by a gang of foreigners just steps from the Duomo [Cathedral] of Milan during the festivities for the beginning of the new year.
“I beg you, stop”: That desperate cry, then the horror from the illegal migrant
“The data from Istat (Italian National Institute of Statistics) speak clearly: Foreigners are five times more often the perpetrators of crimes of sexual violence than Italians,” points out Counselor Riccardo De Corato — “notwithstanding the tightening of sentences, the molestations and the rapes are not diminishing. The policies that protect women do not seem to have taken effect within part of the foreign population-and the serious episode that took place New Year’s Eve in Duomo Square confirms it — that they continue to consider the woman as an object, a property, with which, the man can do as he wants.”
On June 2, five adolescents were harassed with shocking molestations on a train to Peschiera returning from a day spent at Lake Garda. The perpetrators, not yet all identified, reportedly directed racist insults at the young victims. “You are white, you shouldn’t be here (on the train — editor’s note).” A worrisome phenomenon, which signals a negative record in Lombardy concerning to sexual crimes. “In our capital (Milan — editor’s note), the trend of the past few years has never seen a drop, unfortunately,” adds De Corato. “On the contrary, it is rising slightly, given that from 273 cases in 2011, it has passed 285 in 2021. In my opinion, the situation is very troubling.”
“Culturally motivated” crimes
No less alarming is the tendency concerning so-called “culturally motivated crimes”, i.e. those crimes that ripen in a cultural context, in contrast with the systems of rules and values in the host country. “The explanatory theories of foreign crime identify multiple factors of delinquent behavior in which there is an interior conflict between the culture of origin and value systems of the host country,” explains Dr. Capozza, “which, within the same person, produces a contrast between divergent cultural systems and norms and can lead to discomfort, insecurity, and confusion with the risk of maladjustment, psychiatric disturbance, and criminality.”
Then there are other factors to take into consideration, for example, “the precarious economic conditions in which the immigrants live,” the expert continues. “The social marginalization of which they are often victims with the subsequent risk of ‘labeling’, the absence of social groups and family references can favor the adoption of delinquent behaviors.”
Among the culturally oriented crimes, those connected to the phenomenon of forced marriages are notably on the increase. According to the latest data released by the Viminale (Interior Ministry), two out of three victims are foreigners with a strong incidence of Pakistani women. “I believe that there is, at least on the part of some, also a large problem underestimating certain phenomena that are ignored and characterized as habits and customs of a culture that are to be respected,” adds De Corato. “I am referring, for example, to the niqab (face covering) and female genital mutilation, the latter practice to which many children, daughters, and non-EU foreigners in our country are being subjected.”
Estimates relative to infibulation (University of Milan, Bicocca 2019), on the other hand, account for 87,600 victims in Italy. Of these, 7000 are (female) children and girls little more than adolescents. “There is evidently still much to do to spread the culture of respect and equality concerning women,” concludes the security counselor for the Lombardy region. “Sometimes, we open our eyes realizing how serious the condition of cultural segregation is in which women are kept, here as well, when incidents like that of Saman (Abbas) occur. Then everything falls back into forgetfulness, and we pretend not to know that many Muslims consider women to be anthropologically inferior and subordinate to men.”
Attacks on police
Not just rapes, thefts, robberies, or “culturally-motivated” crimes. Violent immigration also affects the police. The latest incident goes back a few days when at Pisa, a non-EU foreigner, aged 30, attacked a policeman, hitting him with a violent punch. Not just that: During the episode, the young man reportedly destroyed the glass of the patrol car.
In May of 2021, instead of being attacked, two police officers were working in Milan when a pair of North Africans in the country illegally went into a rage, insulting the officers. Then the violence: Kicks and punches directed at the officers, both injured, so much they had to go to emergency care. One of the two police officers was treated for a fractured hand with a (recovery) prognosis of 25 days, while the other was diagnosed with a contusion on his elbow. Earlier, in January of 2021, a group of foreigners surrounded police officers, threatening them with a broken bottle and punching them several times.
According to the 2021report “Beaten Cops”, furnished by ASAPS, the Association for Safety on the Streets, in 2021 physical attacks on officers totaled 2,655, more than 7 per day. Of these, 37% were caused by foreign citizens. But why this fury directed at police and Carabinieri, with the risk of being arrested? “On the one hand, the linguistic difficulty and knowledge of the culture and the rules make it difficult for the foreigner to be able to communicate and comprehend the social and judicial system in which he is inserted,” explained the criminologist Francesca Capozza. But there is more. In fact, the expert continues, “on the other hand, the police at the time of the crime represent the limit and the law from which they themselves are fleeing, or that they struggle to understand and accept; thus reactive emotions connected to them pour out.”
The risk of radicalization
The data relative to the phenomenon of violent immigration, which clearly concerns only the extremist and radical fringe of the foreigners who reach Italy, outlines scenarios that are not very reassuring for the future. Milan, where the presence of illegal migrants has reached 50,000, is among the Italian cities most at risk. “It is evident that the choice of moving to Milan is not accidental. There is money, prosperity, and work. But there is also the question, the point at which many neighborhoods of the city are now run by the foreign element,” explains De Corato. The public housing of San Siro, for example, is almost all occupied by Arab squatters. The same can be said for Corvetto, where there is a strong presence of foreigners from Eastern Europe, Roma (Gypsies), and Africans. They are all places where the government has lost contact with reality, and where, in my opinion, the situation is irreversible. And it is obvious then that the risk is rising, violent criminality is elevated.”
Though the prospects are not encouraging, and the process of radicalization is a conceivable eventuality, we are not facing an irreversible crisis. “The only solution to guarantee the safety of our citizens is the presence of police on the ground. In Milan, for example, up until some time ago, there were neighborhood watches. Where did they go? The only deterrent is the presence everywhere of men in uniform, on foot, and the social concierge,” concludes the Lombardy counselor. “But in the current state, with entire neighborhoods under assault by foreigners, it is practically impossible to apply solutions of this type. The people are afraid.”