Why this story matters:
The 28-year-old attacker, whom I won’t name as it would just give him more notoriety, claimed he sought to avenge a local 18-year-old girl whose body was found dismembered in a suitcase. Police have detained a 29-year-old Nigerian migrant in connection with the death, inspiring Saturday's assailant to open fire on random groups of immigrants even though he had no personal connection to the girl. The shooter insists he is not sorry.
Admiration for fascism, including historical leaders such as Benito Mussolini, has been on the rise recently among young people in Italy, which experts say could be due to weak job prospects and depressed salaries.
Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni of the center-left Democratic Party has vowed to “immediately stop” anyone promoting violence, but it’s not clear what steps -- if any -- might be taken.
Details from the story:
- On Jan. 31, 18-year-old Pamela Mastropietro was found dead and dismembered, her body hidden in two suitcases. Police detained a 29-year-old Nigerian man in connection with the killing.
- Far-right politicians immediately used the murder as campaign fodder ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for March.
- On Feb. 3, a 28-year-old Italian man opened fire on groups of immigrants in the town of Macerata. Six people from Nigeria, Ghana and Mali were injured, at least one seriously.
- Right-wing politicians, including the leader of the anti-immigrant party Lega Nord, have distanced themselves from the shooting, but have sought to portray racial violence as inevitable if Italy does not block immigration from Africa and the Middle East.
- The shooter had made an unsuccessful bid for a local position with the Lega Nord.
- Secret Facebook groups have praised the shooting as something that “had to be done” to stop illegal immigration.
- A neo-fascist group has offered to pay his legal expenses, and tributes have appeared both online and in public spaces, including a banner hung across a bridge in Rome.
- Italian sales of Mein Kampf have risen more than 1,000 percent on Amazon since the shooting.