Tony Iwobi displays his battered Nigerian passport
Iwobi did not hide his exasperation with talks about racism
The Black Life Matters movement which has taken the world by storm has put far right politicians in Italy on the defence. The BLM, which has swept through the US and parts of Europe, has become source of concern for the League Party of Matteo Salvini, a hitherto provincial party that suddenly found national limelight as a result of rhetorics on immigration. Echoing this concern in an interview published in the Libero Quotidiano, is Tony Iwobi, 63, a Nigerian born naturalised Italian elected on the platform of the League as a Senator.

In the interview, Iwobi did not hide his exasperation with talks about racism, and had this to say about the murder of African American George Floyd, “killing a person is a heinous crime, regardless of colour. This crime must be condemned but cannot be turned into a reason to sow terror (the demonstrations in the wake of Floyd murder). In the guise of the anti-racist battle, terrible crimes are being committed everywhere. It’s time to say enough,” he declared.

Iwobi’s fear is real, he is apprehensive the unending protests may only be the beginning of even more in the near future, especially as they spread close to home. He pointed to the bringing down of statues of some known racists and slave dealers to buttress his point. He describes such actions as aiming to “amputate us from the deepest part of ourselves: our roots, our past, what determines who we are and who we will be. What a gigantic idiocy to tear down certain monuments,” he lamented.

Iwobi is not done, “I have no doubt that the fundamental objective of the demonstrators in America as in Europe is to create confusion. They condemn without knowing, but if you don’t know how can you judge?” he queried, and said if he runs into the guys behind the BLM, Italy, he would advise them to “think with your brain.”

Asked if racism exists in Italy, hear our black Senator, “the Italian people are not affected by this disease (racism) if anything, people are angry and disappointed. Discontentment is growing, social unease as well. When Italians oppose illegal landings (of immigrants) they don’t do it because they have it up against Africans, or because they consider them inferior, but because they feel abandoned by a government that seems to fight with greater passion for those who have to arrive rather than for those who are already here. Under the pressure of the economic crisis triggered by the period of isolation (COVID-19), this desperate sense of distrust of the Italians could become explosive.”

Iwobi continued his apology for racism in Italy to the very end. What would he do if Laura Boldrini (a member of the Italian Chambers of Deputies) was to take the knee before him because he was black? “I would ignore it,” declared Iwobi, noting that “I have never been a victim of racism by citizens, but in the political context I suffered insults that hurt me. The so-called “anti-racists,” when I was elected, called me “uncle Tom,” or “backyard negro,” or “green negro” (colour of the League).

Tony Iwobi came to Italy from Nigeria to study 42 years ago, after his studies, Iwobi never returned to Nigeria. When his name is mentioned in the immigrant community in Italy, not a few thump up their noses.

Iwobi has been campaigning vigorously against what he and his party termed invasion by immigrants