19 February 2011

Noureddine Adnane. A martyr in Palermo

Mimmo refused to go to the hospital’s morgue of Palermo to see Noureddine. Because he was afraid he would see his face charred by the flames. He was afraid that those images of death would replace forever in his memories those images of Noureddine smiling, of his eyes full of life and dreams. The dreams of a 27 year old young man, who had left when he was just eighteen back in 2002, full of expectations and responsibilities, determined to work hard in Italy in order to support his seven siblings and his parents.

Today Noureddine Adnane, Franco for the Italians, is no longer. His body is on its way back to Ben Ahmed. It will arrive in Morocco either today or tomorrow for the funeral. Waiting for him, nine years after his departure, there will be his 21 year old wife and his daughter, little Khadija, two and half years old. Who will explain to the child what really happened to her daddy?

It all happened last February on 10th. Like everyday Noureddine had set up his mobile stall just outside the Massaro bar, in Basile st., in the university area. He has his papers in order, both the residence permit and the licence for the stall. But he was uneasy because the previous week he had received 4 tickets from the traffic wardens. And as a matter of fact even on that day they approach him, around three in the afternoon. They tell him the same things, that he cannot stay for more than an hour on the same spot and that he must constantly move on by at least 500 metres.

His relatives and his friends say that then the traffic wardens allegedly decided to seize part of his goods, toys, handkerchiefs, gloves. In that instant Noureddine started becoming furious, handed his documents to the traffic wardens, left for a while and then returned with a bottle of petrol which he sprinkles all over his clothes threatening to burn himself while holding a lighter in his hands. It is not quite clear what happened next. Whether the traffic wardens try to calm him down or whether they
acted cruelly towards him. There are no witnesses at the moment. Only the video images taken from the closed circuit cameras of the Massaro bar, which have in the meantime been admitted as evidence by the authorities, who will most propably launch an inquiry for instigation to commit suicide.

On their part the traffic wardens deny that they seized Noureddine’s goods, and remarked on the fact that one of them intervened promptly with his own jacket trying to extinguish the flames on Noureddine’s body.

However, the Moroccans at the hospital’s morgue had different stories to tell. The traffic wardens have a very bad reputation. Their harassment of the Moroccan pedlars in Palermo during the last months has increased significantly. Especially on the part of two traffic wardens. Their names are on everybody’s mouths. In particular that of the traffic warden who likes to be called Bruce Lee, a former card-carrying member of Forza Nuova, with a distinctive identification mark: a tattooed swastica on the arm.

Is he behind the fierceness used against poor Noureddine Adnane, who with his stall tried to make ends meet? It will be up to the authorities to conduct their inquiries. In the meantime, we have found another story. It was told to us by another stall holder, whose identity we prefer to keep hidden for security reasons.

This happened last January. This young man, with residence permit and licence in order, was selling bags nearby an open air market of Palermo. The two traffic wardens mentioned above approached him and tried to take him away. He tried to resist showing them his documents. He insisted that they check his documents, which were in perfect order, but they still tried to force him to get in the car. He refused with all his strengths, therefore they immobilized him down on the ground, hit his head on the asphalt injuring him. Then they handcuffed him, seized his goods and put in the car straight to the police station of San Lorenzo, among the general indifference of the passers-by. Once they reached the police station, they kept him there for 24 hours, with no water and no food. They kept him handcuffed in a room. With 4 policemen and the other two traffic wardens. One by one they slapped him and pushed him down on the floor, while the others kicked him and punched him, spat him in the face calling him “rubbish”. The day after he was charged with accusations of forgery and resisting arrest, for which he risked losing his residence permit.

He will have to defend himself in the courts. In the meantime today he is here at the demonstration of solidarity for Noureddine. He has been in Palermo for the past 5 years, and his father has been here for much more time. Together with the other Moroccans at the demonstration, today he demands justice. There are a few hundreds of them in the demonstration from Politeama square, with the students and the antiracist forum movement. All in solidarity with Noureddine’s family. He is the martyr of the day. A story very similar to his sparked a revolution in Tunisia. It is very likely that no revolution will take place in Italy and that Noureddines’ life will have been sacrificed for nothing. In the end, it is entirely up to us.

translated by Alexandra D'Onofrio