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Muslim councillor flees Italy over death threats

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Muslim councillor flees Italy over death threats
The 45-year-old councillor, who is of Moroccan origin, has lived in the town since the age of 22 and is the first Muslim councillor in the province of Trentino. Photo: Democratic Party (PD)
11:37 CEST+02:00
A Muslim councillor in the northern Italian province of Trentino has reportedly fled the country, citing concerns for the safety of her children after receiving death threats and xenophobic messages over a two-year period.

Aicha Mesrar, who has been a councillor for the city of Rovereto for the Democratic Party (PD) since 2010, handed in her notice to the city council because she feared for the lives of her children, news agency ANSA reported.

“I can’t always live under escort,” Mesrar was quoted as saying by Il Fatto Quotidiano. “I’m not scared for me but for my children. But I leave with pride, satisfied with what I have done and what I have received."

The 45-year-old councillor, who is of Moroccan origin, has lived in the town since the age of 22 and is the first Muslim councillor in the province of Trentino.

Reacting to the news, Bruno Dorigatti, council president for Trento, praised Mesrar’s “outstanding example of civic commitment” and said her decision was a cause for concern.

“If a female resident [who has lived] in the province for 23 years must give in to intimidation and anonymous threats, and who has been a point of reference for the Islamic community and appointed by the mayor to work on the promotion of an open city, capable of reconciling languages, cultures and different religious faiths, it means that Trentino has not yet defeated all the dangerous germs of intolerance,” Dorigatti said, according to local paper La Voce del Trentino.

He added that he offered “total solidarity” with Mesrar.

But not all politicians were supportive of the councillor. Responding to Dorigatti’s statement, the far-right Northern League (Lega Nord) party said Dorigatti’s suggestion that Trentino is an intolerant place was unfounded.

“We cannot accept lessons in tolerance from Mrs Aicha Mesrar since otherwise we couldn’t justify the many millions of euros spent by citizens of Trentino every year in the name of solidarity and integration in relation to foreign families.”

The party added that it would “not miss foreigners like her”, accusing Mesrar and other foreigners of having “abused the supportive social system of Trentino and then ungratefully go about shooting Trentino citizens in the back.”

When contacted by The Local, the Rovereto Council was unable to confirm whether Mesrar had left the country or whether she would return to her post. 

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