But the latest crisis on Lampedusa is merely one more ugly episode in the avoidable fate that befell the island when the tsunami of refugees landed after the collapse of Tunisia’s government early this year. The island is just 113 miles from Tunisia, and is indeed closer to Africa than to its mother, Italy.
Throughout this year, Italian officials sat paralyzed, wondering what to do about the great African migration while the teeming horde of Tunisians, Libyans, and others swept over Lampedusa like a biblical plague.
The Fire and Riot
Illegal-alien anarchy at Lampedusa reignited on Tuesday. Angry and ungrateful Tunisians set fire to the detention center on the island because Italian authorities have judged them economic migrants, not political refugees, and will send them home. The 1,300 or so Tunisians destined for a return trip home arrived in the last few weeks, with 300 of them arriving on September 19.
The news of their impending repatriation apparently sent the smoldering African host into a fury, the Telegraph reported, whereupon they torched the center. After that, many of the migrants fled the detention center and freely roamed the island.
Television footage showed riot police wielding clubs and beating the migrants as they jumped from a balcony near the island's commercial port Wednesday. The clashes came a day after migrants set their overcrowded holding centre on fire to protest Italy's policy of forced repatriations.
Clashes broke out Wednesday as some residents hurled stones at migrants who were threatening to blow up some gas canisters, news reports said. Angry residents also assaulted TV crews and other journalists covering the rioting, telling them to leave the island alone.
The clashes left several people injured, the reports said.
Lampedusa mayor Bernardino De Rubeis denounced the government for abandoning the island to cope with the chaos alone, calling the migrants “delinquents” and insisting the island wouldn’t accept one more.
According to the Independent, “Angry residents of Lampedusa surrounded the town hall, calling on the mayor, Bernardino De Rubeis, to take a stronger line against the refugees. The local population of 5,000 has often been outnumbered by migrants.”
Indeed, such is the chaos that De Rubeis keeps a baseball bat in his office, and is ready to brain the first Tunisian who gives him trouble. “I have to defend myself and am ready to use it,” he said of the bat, which he showed to journalists, the Independent reported. “It's like a war zone.”
“I must defend myself,” he said, reported the Italian news agency ANSA. “We’re at war, people have decided to take justice into their own hands.”
De Rubeis expects, in vain perhaps, that Italian authorities will come to Lampedusa’s rescue, the Telegraph reported, “to show some solidarity with people who have been violated repeatedly.”
He wants action now, the Telegraph said:
"In the past few days I raised the alarm more than once. Enough is now enough," he said, calling for Silvio Berlusconi, the prime minister, to call an emergency cabinet meeting to discuss the crisis.
He said islanders were fed up with having to host so many migrants. “We’re in a war, and the people will react. There are people here who want to go out into the street armed with clubs.”
The mayor demanded that Italian navy ships be sent to the island “immediately” in order to transfer the migrants to camps in Sicily and the mainland.
Lampedusa’s illegal-alien woes began in January, when thousands of Tunisians, who fled the unrest in their country that brought down its government, began landing on the tiny island’s shores.
Eventually, some 50,000 refugees of different nationality showed up. The refugees outnumbered the natives islanders 10 to 1. The massive knot of humanity trashed the island, stressing its food and water supplies. The residents were helpless against the human deluge and the leftist elites who refused to stop it. Italians authorities transferred them to the mainland, where they attempted to fan out across Europe. The British and Germans flatly said they would not accept them, and Germany began deporting them. The Schengen accord allowing free movement across the borders of members states seemed in jeopardy.
According to the Telegraph, about 26,000 of the horde were Tunisians, the rest being Libyans and others: “Italy has been sending the bulk of the Tunisians home if they don’t qualify for political asylum but residents on the island have complained they are being overwhelmed with migrants and are bearing the entire EU’s immigration burden alone.”
Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi is responsible for at least a fifth of the mess, if not more, as The New American reported in June, quoting the New York Times. Gadhafi opened the floodgates from his country because the United States and its European allies backed the rebels that were attempting to overturn his regime. At the time, Gadhafi let 9,000 persons leave Libya.
In 2008, Italy paid $5 billion to the Libyan dictator to stop illegal aliens from leaving his shores. Since then, he has been the cork in the refugee bottle. A report in the Telegraph for September 26 observed:
... with diplomats claiming Gaddafi's 41-year rule could be in its final death throes, southern Europe is being warned to prepare for a fresh influx of migrants.
Gaddafi had earlier threatened to withdraw border and coastal patrols, warning that "Europe will become black" if he ceases co-operation over immigration.
Camp of the Saints
The situation in Lampedusa is eerily similar the fictional scenario Jean Raspail envisioned in his apocalyptic novel, Camp of the Saints, which depicts a flotilla of one million refugees from India landing in France, having left the “world largest democracy” and rounded the Cape of Good Hope in the “last chance armada.”
In Raspail's vision, because the cancerous ideology of self-hatred, guilt, and and multiculturalism has rotted the minds not only of the Western elites but also of the mass of democratized voters who empower them, the French don’t know what to do about the mass of humanity sailing toward them. Paralyzed with indecision, they settle upon a hearty welcome.
The horde lands in France. It overruns the country. The West collapses.
Photo: Anti-riot police officers line up in the island of Lampedusa, Italy, Sept. 21, 2011.: AP Images