Hundreds mourn Nigerian killed in Italy race-hate attack

Hundreds of mourners attended the funeral on Sunday of a Nigerian migrant who was killed by a right-wing football fan in a racist attack which has sparked widespread soul-searching in Italy.

Hundreds mourn Nigerian killed in Italy race-hate attack
Emmanuele Chidi Nnamdi, 36, and his wife, Chinyere, fled to Italy from Nigeria last year.

“He came to live in peace, he found death”, read one of the many messages left with flowers for Emmanuele Chidi Nnamdi, whose widow, dressed entirely in white, fainted twice during the ceremony and had to be carried out of the Fermo cathedral in central Italy.

Nigerian friends rushed to support her after she collapsed near his rose-topped coffin.

Nnamdi, 36, died in hospital after he was punched by farmer Amedeo Mancini during a fight in the town on Tuesday which broke out after Mancini called Nnamdi's wife Chinyere an “African monkey”.

Mancini, 39, who was arrested, admitted to police that he had insulted the woman, but said he believed the pair had been about to steal a car, and only assaulted Nnamdi after the latter hit him first with a road sign.

He also defended his use of the term “monkey”, saying it was not racist but simply an expression commonly used at the football stadium.

The deadly incident has been met with outrage but also questions on how to tackle xenophobia in a country where prominent right-wing politicians have also been known to use the term.

In perhaps the most high-profile case, Cecile Kyenge, a DR Congo-born Italian MEP, was minister for integration in July 2013 when a senator from Italy's anti-immigration Northern League party publicly compared her to an orangutan.

Despite widespread outrage over the slur, the Italian senate blocked legal action against the politician.

Kyenge, who attended the funeral, wrote a letter to Chinyere saying that “hate destroyed your life project with Emmanuel” but called on her not to “late hate win” and instead accept a grant to study medicine in Italy, “which is not a racist country”.

The funeral was also attended by parliamentary relations minister Maria Elena Boschi and the president of the lower house of parliament, Laura Boldrini.

Nnamdi and Chinyere fled Nigeria last year after an attack on a church by the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram in which their two-year-old son and other members of their families were killed.

Chinyere reportedly later suffered a miscarriage during the boat journey across the Mediterranean to Italy after being attacked by a trafficker in Libya. Since their arrival, the couple had been housed in a shelter run by Catholic organization Caritas.

Hundreds of migrants arrive daily in Italy. The Italian interior ministry said last week that a total of 70,930 people landed between January and June – almost exactly the same number as the same period in 2015 and slightly higher than in 2014.

The full-year total of migrant arrivals for 2015 was 153,000