Lampedusa, a small island of 20,2sq km and 6’304 inhabitants is known for two things. Firstly, its magnificent beaches
And secondly, the fact that it is an entry point into Europe for immigrants from Africa, due to its geographical position: the island is 113 kms from Tunisia
And it is this last fact that our story talks about. The immigration has always existed, from the most flamboyant, that towards the virgin land of the USA at the beginning of the 20th century, where millions of people with no future or work where searching for a better world, or most recently, those who run away from war and misery. This is the moment of the migrants of the Arab spring, people leave in order to find work or run away from a hostile environment which they dislike. The solidarity has also always existed. In the past, this solidarity was characterised by the sharing of bread in the morning, a meal at night, or a job offered at open heart. This type of solidarity still exists, but has a different way of being transmitted and told. This way is called social media. Twitter bubbles with activity, Facebook ignites, YouTube sparks, humanity, solidarity and comprehension are the words which spread on the web. Solidarity expresses itself in different forms, and not only by Italians or residents of the Island, which are nevertheless the most affected. Not only by religious people but also by independent reporters, photographers, or just anyone. Below is how this solidarity expresses itself.
If the governments do not mobilise themselves and have difficulties in finding support the web begins by talking about who these people are. Not through a sterile analysis, but by giving them the possibility to express themselves. Opinions and expressions which are then diffused through social media and which taken on a big meaning. The idea is: “listen to them, its a story of a hope in a better life, being not in the same situation 100 years ago?”
In order not to scare people the web shows by their contributions but also by focused videos on the subject that they do good to the Island. The idea is: “don’t be scared its no a black man, but a man like you who needs your help and support”
In order to do this, the web is searching for people who have been there, who have met the immigrants, and who can give a first hand account. The idea is: “its not only them who speak and it is not the empty and hypocrite words of certain politicians, its a young girl on the spot who tells us about it, listen to her”
But the web not only talks about people and their life, the web tells us a story about what happens to them. The tweets increase, information is forwarded, users give them a new light, its way of saying: “we are following you, you are not alone”
But the web also takes position, it is not only a question about discussion but to denounce what is going on. Who is there, or decided to go there to upload images, or videos on the internet, the idea is: “look at the conditions on which these people are living is it acceptable?”
And in relation to these dramatic situations the web takes a clear stance at the question whether or not this is acceptable the answer is clearly “no it is not and we scream it at the face of the government and of public institutions”
And if the government, the EU, no one helps these people, neither the people who live on the island, the web proposed concrete solutions. The idea is: “there are solutions, but you just have to notice them below are a few” seems to be what internet users are saying
And this solidarity sometimes allies itself to one particular event, the Tunisian immigrants from Lampedusa are not the only ones abandoned as soon as they leave. To the contrary they are being followed and supported. Such as during the expulsion of 140 occupants of a building of the Mairie de Paris en rue Simon Bolivar 51, the 4th of may, after 4 days of a peaceful occupation of the Collectif des Tunisiens de Lampedusa à Paris. The story was followed and commented upon. We find within it elements of the story which we have been telling, the disgust at the way of acting of the authorities, the relaying of information but with an added element: the call for concrete mobilisation such as to say: “words are useful, but action is even more useful”
The story of the solidarity amongst the internet users towards the immigrants of Lampedusa has therefore no limits and no boundaries. But for France, as well as for the Island this situation is not new. As goes for show tommygiallorosso who reworks a song from Sud Sound System reggae group from the region of Salento dedicated to Lampedusa. “ In this world, we are all equal, lets remind ourselves that we have also been migrants”, we can hear
This story could therefore be told and re told, to infinity under the angle which we have chosen, since the web has shown its solidarity. But this story could be told through another angle, much more sad and barbarous. It could take the title of Immigrants go away and its posts could be the beginning of a sad story
Are social media users racist or do they show solidarity? We are close to being able to confirm that users do show solidarity but if you want to write a story of racism and barbary you would surely be able to find such kind of material too. I leave that task to you, as I will not dirty my hands in such an undertaking.