By Fallon Bursey
On March 20th, a bus filled with 51 school children was allegedly hijacked by the driver and set on fire near Milan. The driver is allegedly reported to have said “No-one will survive.” Some of the children were found tied up in the bus. They were rescued by first responders who smashed through windows in the back. It is reported that no one is badly hurt, however there are reportedly fourteen who are suffering from smoke inhalation. The alleged driver is a 47-year-old Italian man from Senegal who was later arrested. Francesco Greco, the Milan Chief Prosecutor, was quoted as saying, “It was a miracle, it could have been a massacre.”
It is reported that a teacher was also present on the bus later said that the driver was known to be angry about the Italy migrant policy. There are some alleged reports that claim the man was shouting “stop the deaths in the Mediterranean.”
It began when two groups of tens and the adult were being taken to the school gym in Vailati di Crema, but they took a different route on a provincial highway which was apparently going to Milan’s Linate airport, according to the local reports. The event then proceeded to occur for the next forty minutes. The suspect allegedly began addressing the passengers of students with a knife. The police were notified when a boy called his parents, who then called police. The police took some amount of time before attempting to capture the bus. The bus rammed and crashed into police cars before ever slowing down. The reports in Italy said gasoline was leaked around the bus, however the police smashed in windows to get the students before it burst into flames. The Milan prosecutors said they were investigating all the possible motives, including terrorism. Matteo Salvini, Italy’s right-wing minister, is said to have reacted with outrage. He even claimed the man had a criminal record before the event.
Italy has a tough stance on migrants since the League party and populist Five Star Movement who came into power in June, with a strong anti-immigration belief. Italy has tried to close its ports to boats and ships, being as it is at the front of migrants who cross across the Mediterranean Sea to get to Europe. On Tuesday, about 50 people were saved by a charity ship off of a rubber boat from the coast of Libya. They were taken to Sicilian Island of Lampedusa. The Italian authorities ordered the ship that was seized and then launched an investigation to the alleged aiding of clandestine immigration. A decree that was issued in September makes it easier to deport migrants and take their citizenship if they commit any serious crimes, according to BBC News.
Previously this month, about 200,000 people had attended an anti-racism march in Milan, Italy. In Lombardy, where 200,000 marched, is an area where the right-wing populist party has very strong support. The government promotes fear and hatred to spread and divide people as well as gain support.
The Deputy Prime Minister and League leader Matteo Salvini has said that the government's new immigration policies will lead to a more safe Italy. This would mean the migrants can now be expelled if they are found guilty of committing serious crimes like assault and rape. Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini said the policy is a “step forward to make Italy safer.” This policy needs to be backed by the lawmakers. It also says that those seeking asylum, or the safe residency in another country after fleeing their home country from fear or threat, who are accused of drug dealing will have their applications denied. He has been a big figure in the public immigration crackdown prevailing in Italy recently since he began his position.
He has also been in conflict with the rescue ship operators involved in the public stand off from the disembarkation of 150 migrants from a coast guard ship to the island of Sicily. He is under investigation for his controversial role in this event. In another case, a rescue ship which was in central Mediterranean had its registration removed by the Panama, which is leaving its future legal use uncertain. When it next docks at shore, the maritime flag will be removed and it may not sail without a new permit, meaning it will be stuck in port. It is the last private rescue ship that was picking up immigrants trying to cross from Libya into Europe. It is currently sailing to the French port in Marseille with the migrants on board. The charities which run the ship accuse the government of pressuring it and then deflagging the ship. It is often referred to as a “political problem,” according to authorities.