14th March was the day of the funeral of Idy Diene, the 54-year-old senegalese man who was shot dead by 65-year-old Roberto Pirrone on Monday, 5th March, as he was crossing the Vespucci Bridge in Florence. The city declared a day of mourning. The Sophia University Institute, whose headquarters are about twenty kilometres away from the historical centre of Florence, and whose international vocation makes it a home for students from all over the world every year, wishes to express a message through the words of Grace Audrey, a Political Sciences student from Burundi.

I would like to address this message to my African immigrant brothers and to the citizens of Italy. Ever since I moved to Italy, the issue of immigration has been particularly close to my heart, as it is an issue that concerns me personally as well as everyone else. The protest of the Senegalese people held on Monday, 5th March, after the news of Diene’s death was made public, as well as some comments that were made on the subject of this demonstration, pushed me to break the silence. I cannot remain silent in the face of acts and words of violence.

Violence solves nothing, because it has never been, in my opinion, a source of justice – rather, it creates an infernal cycle which only generates more violence towards those who feel oppressed. We must seek to solve this problem by other means. Let us leave our prejudices aside: I believe that everyone has an obligation to respect the life and dignity of every human being.

Dear men and women, dear brothers, let’s decide what to do by listening to one another first. We were all created with the opportunity to do good: we need to leave hatred and violence aside and enter a dialogue that can allow both sides to improve a situation that is quickly getting out of hand and is only pointless and harmful for everyone.

It breaks my heart to see how aggressiveness and intolerance have become the only ways of expressing one’s opinion: to me, violence is certainly a brutal and inhumane expression of man. But when we resort to it, we forget that what makes us truly human is choosing ‘good’, the deepest essence of every human being. For this reason, fraternal love is foreign to no one: it is innate in man, who was created by God as a unique and original being. As a human being, I cannot tolerate the idea that the current limitations to immigration should influence human nature and that humanity is uncapable of doing what is needed in a just and humane way to solve this problem.

In particular, I would like to recall, without risking to say something wrong, that we are all equal, regardless of our physical differences. That we are capable of going beyond the boundaries of our ego to be united, because we are capable of living together in peace, of turning our anger into a collective voice for fraternity. As an African and proud of my origins, it hurts me to witness the aggressive behaviour of all parties concerned, and that no reasonable point of view has been expressed on a situation that is so pressing and important.

My dear brothers and sisters, let us never forget our guiding star: our humanity, ‘Ubuntu’, the foundation of unity in diversity.

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