The bishop of Foggia has condemned the continuing attacks on migrant workers in this region of southern Italy.

In the last two weeks, at least nine young men of African origin have been injured in at least four separate attacks.

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The latest attack happened Tuesday, when unknown assailants in a moving car threw rocks at three young men as they walked to their work in the fields of the Puglian countryside.

As Italian Insider reports, after this last attack Democratic Party (PD) senator Teresa Bellanova criticised the government for fostering a “climate of hatred”.

“Nobody can reduce incidents this serious to acts of bravado. They have the same dynamic and the same skin colour. The state and government representatives have the task of defending workers, no matter what their ethnicity”, denounced Bellanova.

“Instead of continuing to criminalise NGOs and those who rescue desperate people at sea… Salvini [Italian Interior Minister] and Di Maio [Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development, Labour and Social Policies should be afraid of the climate of hatred that they themselves have fostered and continue to nourish”, warned the senator.

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Foggia bishop Vincenzo Pelvi also condemned the attacks against the migrant workers.

In an interview with SIR, Pelvi expressed his concern over the “air not only of fear, but also of confrontation, anger, mistrust, even hatred” that is building up in the region.

The bishop denounced “the poison of racism” behind the attacks and “the hatred that tries to pollute the sense of humanity”.

He said a “hostile architecture” is at work to rid Foggia of migrants.

“An anti-evangelical atmosphere is being created: even if they [the attackers] say they are believers, they do not live as Christians”, affirmed Pelvi.

The bishop said it is “very serious” that “the Christian testimony is separated from acceptance of the other”.

He added that Christians run the risk of becoming “distracted, inattentive, uncaring, indifferent” if they turn a blind eye to the violence.

“The word of the Gospel in some places is uncomfortable: he who comes to reside among us must be treated as one born among us. The foreigner must be treated as one of the family”, Pelvi insisted.

What’s next

Pelvi called for a new project of social cohesion in Foggia to tackle “the disease of indifference” and “to sow horizons of hope again”.

“It is not possible to just watch. We must not be afraid to affirm what we believe in”, the bishop encouraged local Christians.

The bishop said he had decided to dedicate August 4 – the first day of the novena building up to the patronal feast – to the migrant workers killed this time last year when the van they were travelling in to the fields crashed.

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