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Ivorian immigrant begins tenure as member of parliament in Italy

Italian-Ivorian deputy Aboubakar Soumahoro (R) is seen in Italy's lower house of parliament on on October 13, 2022   -  
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Italy

On Thursday, Italy's lower house of parliament welcomed its first-ever Black member.

Aboubakar Soumahoro's first day as a parliamentarian was rich in symbolism. The farm boots show his humble beginnings as an immigrant farm worker more than 20 years ago.

"We will work for those who are put in a condition of slavery, for our sons, for the youth, for those Italian people who had to flee abroad, because they were not given the chance to live here. This is what we will do," Soumahoro told journalists outside parliament. 

The 42-year-old contested and won a seat on the Green and Left party ticket in the September 25 national election. 

Having arrived in Italy as an undocumented 19-year-old from Ivory Coast in 1999, he has vowed to use his new platform to advocate for protection for asylum seekers and minorities. 

Italy's new right-wing government has promised to crack down on migrants.

"It's been 20 years since laws like the 'Bossi-Fini' (law) create and produce illegality, create and produce slavery, create and produce monstrosities. I am one of the victims of the Bossi-Fini law. We can't have in our country, in Italy, first-level children and second-level children."

"We need to grant Italian citizenship to children born and raised in our country. It's a matter of civilisation, of dignity and also of coherence with the principles represented in our Constitution," he said.

Soumahoro is the only Black lawmaker in the lower chamber of 400 deputies. 

In August, a Nigerian street vendor was killed in broad daylight sparking international outrage. Italian authorities rejected the assertion that the killing was racially motivated.

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