Migrant squatters evicted from Milanese public building, but only to make way for a mosque

By Thomas Brooke
3 Min Read

A group of migrants occupying a public building in the center of Milan has been evicted after the building was sold to be converted into a mosque.

The former public baths in the northern Italian city’s Via Esterle had been home to around 40 migrants for the past six years prior to the eviction carried out by the local authority on Tuesday morning.

The eviction operation was a precursor to the transfer of the building’s ownership from the local government to the Casa della Cultura Muslim association which was awarded a contract in October last year to convert the space into the first authorized mosque to be built in the city.

Police in riot gear raided the property shortly before 7 a.m. in an attempt to catch the occupants off guard. It is understood the majority were around the age of 30 and “almost all originating from Mali, Ivory Coast and Guinea,” according to the Italy 24 news outlet.

Pro-migrant organization Solidarity Network Ci Cerchi, which has been providing advocacy for the occupants, complained that the migrants have not been rehoused.

“The inhabitants, underpaid foreign workers with short-term work contracts, were not offered any alternative housing solution despite the fact that for over a year, the people who live in the building and the Solidarity Network Ci Cerchi had asked the administration to intervene to prevent people ending up on the street,” it said in a statement.

A small group of around 60 left-wing protesters was present at the eviction to demonstrate the action taken by the police.

Despite praising the operation to clear out the illegal occupiers of the building, local right-wing politicians condemned the building of a mosque in the area, warning the neighborhood will turn into an “Islamic free zone” and a “ghetto.”

“After over six years of illegal occupation by social centers and irregular immigrants, the municipal property in via Esterle has finally been cleared out. We thank the police commissioner and the police for the success of the operation,” said Silvia Sardone, an MEP for the right-wing League. “Bringing back legality is very important, especially against those who are professionals of illegality,” she added.

The League’s regional secretary Samuele Piscina said it was regrettable that the left-wing administration in Milan only finally opted to clear the building to make way for a mosque.

“We would like to point out, among other things, that this area is not suitable and does not meet the requirements for the construction of a mosque. Furthermore, the area of ​​Via Padova already currently has two informal mosques and the citizens are extremely against this intended use of the property,” he said, warning that the move risks turning the area into an “Islamic ghetto.”

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