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Migrant workers in Rome, Italy’s capital, are being targeted by racist youth gangs, which according to disputed news reports are whipped up by a neo-Fascist organisation.

In late November, the La Repubblica newspaper said there had been hundreds of cases over the past months. It quoted pro-migrants lawyer Carlo Scepi as saying that Bangladeshi workers had been singled out for attacks.

Scepi says he is defending “over 10” Bangladeshi migrants who have been assaulted, and has been told of “10 other cases” by his clients. Rome prosecutors have opened a formal investigation but have not yet identified any suspects, he adds.

According to Scepi, young Bangladeshi men are seen as “ideal victims” because they are “meek, not used to violence, slight-bodied, they do not provoke, they do not react … and almost never report” their beatings to police.

One of Scepi’s clients is 22-year-old Simon, who earns a few dozens euros a day selling umbrellas and unloading cases of fruit at a food market.

He told La Repubblica that he was attacked one evening while waiting at a bus stop.

“I don’t know why they do all this. But I know that we Bangladeshi are often victims of these aggressions,” he said.

Another lawyer and two social workers, on conditions of anonymity, say Bangladeshi and other undocumented migrants are usually reluctant to talk to authorities because they fear being issued with expulsion orders.

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