Photo Essay: “The New Sicilian Way” by Cindy Cuellar

A retired police officer talks about his experience as a state official in the refugee crisis. “There are people coming from different realities; from a completely different world so in my personal opinion integration is really difficult but there are many people who manage to do that [integrate].” He continues to say, “We cannot compare everybody to the same situation.”

Benjamin from Nigeria is a refugee who learns Italian Centro Astalli in Catania. He fled from his country to get away from crime and left his family behind.

Like many refugees, Tony from Nigeria endured a dangerous trip through Libya in order to eventually arrive in Europe. He’s waiting for papers in order to work legally in Italy.

Rossana Sampugnaro, a professor from the University of Catania, discusses the lack of knowledge about the migrant issue. According to the Instituto Cattaneo, Italians perceive migrants making up 17% more of the population than they actually do.

Roberto Piazza, a political science major at the University of Catania, talks about how immigration is very important for modern day society in Sicily but he says Italians need to choose between saving people in the ocean and regulating immigration the “right way.”

Julia is a political science major at the University of Catania and studied abroad in Venezuela. Her family housed a Polish exchange student, and she believes this shaped her views toward the refugee crisis in Sicily. Julia says if someone comes to the country with a good heart and intention, they deserve to be here.

Children rush and line up for food in Acireale, Sicily during a feast for Ramadan in the town square. It was held on the celebration day for Italian independence.

Bishop Anthony Raspanti attends the celebration of Eid, the marking of the end of Ramadan. When asked about the refugee crisis he said, “You [the US] have to help us so people can stay here [Italy], I think an international conference would be good. Where’s the UN? Really pay attention, the big nations… where are they?” He says that an Italian bishop’s conference was held just to speak about what they could do to help for the next coming years.

Ishmael Bushnafa is the president of the Islamic federation of Sicily. He talks about the significance of gathering that happened that night, eating together after sundown with the people of Acireale, Sicily.

Angela Foti is a member of the Sicilian Regional Assembly and a member of the Movimento 5 Stelle. “There was a stopping of immigration and giving permits because there are new treaties made with the African countries so the people stopped coming through immediately,” she said, through a translator. “The government as well as the minister of interior was looking for new ways to process the treaties with Africa.”

A young Muslim girl is surrounded by a group of people to listen to her sing after dinner in Acireale, Sicily.

After finishing their meal, the women sat and chatted among one another as a few of the children played close by. One of the volunteers helped clean up their table as the event came to an end.

Stafano AlĂ­ is Mayor of Acireale, Sicily, and member of Movimento 5 Stelle. He welcomed all to the Ramadan feast.

Simona Suriano is a spokesperson from Movimento 5 Stelle that started in 2009 and quickly gained popularity. In the 2018 general election, the party won the largest representation in the Italian Parliament.

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