Karim Elfeky, is a 20 year old Egyptian who has been in Italy since 2009. He is an Economics and Management student in Brescia and the founder of Face to Face, an association which promotes political debate among the younger generations. Regardless of ideas or origins, he has clear views: “Young people are already speaking out. We are already protagonists for major challenges like climate change. We are the ones who say that citizens’ health matters more than economic interests. This is our message. Sooner or later, it will be our turn to make the decisions”.
From Egypt to Brescia…
“My father had already been working here for twenty years. We also have many relatives in the area. It was a family reunion. I was in fourth grade when I arrived”.
He’s now at university and is interested in politics…
Young people are interested in politics but there are no places for debate. Face to Face promotes them online. Everyone is welcome, even if they have different ideas, including those who believe that the ports should remain closed.
Why are new Italians or foreigners more sensitive to politics?
“We grew up aware of the conditions our parents faced. They didn’t speak Italian, they worked hard… We soon understood that many things in society needed to change”.
Is there a problem for political representation for Italians of foreign origin?
“I have citizenship. I’m not doing this just because my name is Karim. I am thinking about Italian citizens as well as foreigners”.
.You said that there are some people in the association who want to close the ports.
“Closed ports or open ports is just propaganda. Illegal immigration is a crime. We need concrete solutions across Europe. We need a Europe that is not divided over everything like it is today, even over Libya”.
Have you been following the Jus Soli debate?
“People shouldn’t be afraid. People who were born here didn’t come from anywhere, they have already made Italian culture their own. It’s a great contradiction: they are people who go to school here, but are not recognised as citizens. Many of them don’t even understand Arabic”.
Do you speak it?
“Yes, because my mother is a teacher”.
Do you think this is a racist country?
I wouldn’t say that. Propaganda is strong on television, but in the end, they are just stereotypes. The strategy of the external enemy only serves to cement public opinion. Nobody sees me as Karim the immigrant who is stealing jobs from Italians.
You recently organised a successful demonstration in Brescia for George Floyd. Part of the Afro-Italian community think that white people need to take a step back. What do you think?
“It doesn’t make sense. We shouldn’t still be talking about race in 2020. I say this: rights should not be measured by skin colour, the level of your tan. People who stay silent are accomplices. Indifference kills”.
Where do you see your future, in Italy or Egypt?
“Italy is my country. I am Italian with a foreign background. When I go on holiday in Egypt, I feel uneasy after a while. I have even been told to ‘Go back to your country…'”.
Translated by Sarah Ellis