Italy, elections: Some "New Italians" are running

A small group of North African descent

12 February, 13:32

Young immigrants rally in Rome for the right to citizenship Young immigrants rally in Rome for the right to citizenship

(ANSAmed) - ROME, NOVEMBER 12 - A small group of young 'new Italians', many of North African descent, are running in Italy's next legislative and regional elections in a bid to bring the 'absent' issue of immigration under the spotlight. "New Italians" Rania Ibrahim, Khalid Chaouki and Zack Fardes come from Egypt, Algeria and Morocco and all gained Italian citizenship recently.

Do they feel exploited? "Maybe." "But the right to vote and stand for parliament is only the first step", they say. "Italian society has changed and political parties are need to be aware of this".

36 year old journalist Rania Ibrahim, who is of Egyptian descent, is a candidate in the Civic list for Monti in Milan. "It's my first time voting in Italy and my first time as a candidate," she told ANSAMed in a strong Milanese accent. "I've lived here for years but only obtained citizenship three years ago, because my husband is Italian".

Pregnant with her fourth child and armed with a degree in Political Science, Ibrahim's experience lies in volunteering. "I've always focused on social issues revolving around the family, women, youth and immigrants who are born and raised in Italy".

Also on the list are members of the Community of Sant'Egido association. These are people who "have always rolled up their sleeves and worked with the weakest groups", said Ibrahim. And while she knows she has little chance of winning, she is thrilled to be taking part. "The real victory is that there are candidates of foreign origin in the electoral roll. It doesn't matter which party we belong to. I'm rooting for us all." Another of the four 'new Italians' is thirty year old journalist Khalid Chaouki, a Democratic Party candidate of Moroccan descent. Chaouki co-founded the Young Muslims of Italy society in 2005 before becoming a member of the Council for Islam at the Interior Ministry, falling spectacularly from grace, and in 2008 beginning his political career in the Democratic Party. A candidate in the Campania region, Chaouki outlined his policies on immigration. "First off is an adoption of a law on citizenship, followed by legislation regarding religious freedom". Italy's future, he warns, "is multi-ethnic and multi-religious," and his experience with the Young Muslims, he adds, means he can't ignore the plight of fellow Muslims. "I can't pretend nothing has happened. We need a law - that comes before a state legislation, that protects the rights of everyone." Although there are around 1.5 million Muslims in Italy, the group is fractured.

"We need a new, more transparent approach, which gives a sense of responsibility to our community and autonomy from the pressures placed on our countries of origin," he said. Fardes Zack, a forty year old entrepreneur of Algerian origin is a candidate in Lazio on the Zingaretti (Pd) list, as a member of the Arab Community in Rome.

"I intend to represent everyone: Christians and Muslims", he said. Zack gained Italian citizenship 10 years ago but has long been involved with immigration and citizenship. Among his concrete proposals is an idea to help companies to invest in the southern Mediterranean and Algeria. (ANSAmed).

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