MOSCOW, September 12 (RIA Novosti) - Aicha Mesrar, an Italian councilor from a small city in northern Italy, has been forced to abandon her post and flee the country, The Independent reported.
Announcing her resignation, Mesrar said that she was proud of her work in the city council, and stressed that her leaving “is not the fault of the people of Rovereto,” but of some isolated elements.
“I cannot always live under escort,” Mesrar said, adding that “I’m not scared for me but for my children.” Mesrar has been under police protection for over two years, after receiving numerous threats in the form of anonymous letters.
Mesrar, 45, was born in Casablanca, Morocco, and moved to Italy in the early 1990s, becoming a councilor of the Democratic Party in the city of Rovereto in the Trentino region in 2010.
Mesrar was described by other local politicians as an active and effective councilor, spearheading several community initiatives, including a local community cooperative. Mesrar was the first woman to wear a veil at city hall.
Rovereto’s mayor, Andrea Miorandi, a friend and political ally of Ms. Mesrar, has also received threats for supporting plans to build a mosque and a Muslim cemetery in the city. He described Mesrar’s work as an “outstanding example of civic commitment.”
Bruno Dorigatti, head of Trentino’s provincial government, noted with sadness that “if [Mesrar] has to give in to intimidation and anonymous threats, it means that Trentino has yet to defeat the dangerous disease of intolerance.”
Police have not yet been able to hone in on the source of the threatening letters, although individuals belonging to right wing groups have been suspected. The right-wing Lega Nord party has told Italian news media that they feel that they are the ones being discriminated against, citing the provision of social services to immigrants. The local Lega Nord party secretary denied having any knowledge about why Ms. Mesrar has decided to leave, but said that “we won’t be lacking in foreigners like her.”
The problem of anti-immigrant attitudes and the related rise of nationalist and xenophobic feelings has been a significant problem in Europe for several decades, but has sharpened dramatically in recent years as the result of sharpening economic crises, rising unemployment, and instability in Northern Africa resulting in an influx of African and Asian immigrants.