Immigrants, integrate yourselves!

A new government immigration campaign is up on the walls in Italy. An Egyptian pizza maker, a Filipino carer and a Senegalese labourer are here to let immigrants know that they can stay in Italy... as long as they make the effort to integrate themselves. A message that doesn't please everyone.

Each of the immigrants featured in the posters delivers the message in the local dialect. The posters also read "Respecting Italian laws will make your life, and the lives of those around you, easier. You have the right to live in Italy, but it depends on you. Consult the integration manual". For some, it's a positive message for immigrants, who should adopt the language and culture of their host country. But for others, the campaign is laughable, and no more than an effort to reassure Italians. Must immigrants abandon their own cultural backgrounds and become "true" Italians in order to settle in the country?  

This post was put together with the help of our Observer in Milan, Alberto Celani

The Egyptian pizza maker

"No-one's born fully trained. Wassef, Egypt, a Neapolitan for the past three years."

The Filipino carer

"'It doesn't hurt, there's no need to be scared.' Patricia, Philippines, a Roman for the past five years."

The Senegalese labourer

"'I'm here to work.' Aziz, Senegal, a Milanese for the past five years."

"Immigrants have to be aware of their rights, and their duties"

Sokol Dhana, an Albanian computer science graduate, has been living in Italy since 2001. He studied at Bicocca University, Milan.

I think these posters should have been printed a long time ago. Italian society still isn't ready for so much immigration into Italy and I see in these posters a mutual way of helping both foreigners and Italians in the process of integration.

Italian society does need to look on foreigners as a helpful community rather than a problematic one - the majority of Italian citizens only hear about immigrants in the crime news. But at the same time, immigrants have to be aware of their rights, and their duties, in Italy. I found the idea of them speaking in dialect perfect. It reflects full integration without being forced. Nobody is obliged to study local dialect at school or university... but anyone can learn it.

I think that these posters were the perfect way to convince both sides that living together can make our lives better."

"It's just a way to put public opinion at rest"

Maurizio Pagani is president of "Opera Nomadi", an association that helps Roma communities in Italy.

This government campaign represents a new approach to integration which leaves out the necessity of an exchange of cultures and a better understanding of the migration phenomenon. It's also a way of trying to uniform people, their way of thinking and expressing themselves, to correspond to an Italian ideal, (what the Northern League wants), which, by the way, does not exist. This campaign comes at the same time as numerous laws, that will systematically discriminate against immigrants, are being brought in (for example, the heightened cost of a resident's permit, the discriminatory tax rate for setting up a business etc).

At the same time, the government is completely unaware of the social needs of immigrants. All the evidence suggests that this type of campaign has no concrete use for immigrants; it's just a way to put public opinion at rest and reinforce the idea that immigrants stand as a threat for Italians (for employment rates, social security, culture and shared values).


integration must be a top priority governmental policy

It is well known that immigrants help to form the rich political, cultural, and economic fabric of each state. So immigrant integration is important and must be a top priority governmental policy. Integration is seen in terms of equality, utility and similarity, like a positive interaction and pacific cohabitation.

A “good” government should propose and create the right conditions so different constituents of a society can have the possibility to be involved in
political life, communicate, discuss and resolve issues with each other, be part of pluralism and be protected by anti-discrimination legislations .
A key point of the relation integration of immigrants and Italian society
must be based on the idea that community leaders should work hand-in-hand with elected leaders to ensure that new citizens successfully become part of their communities- for the benefit of all. It’s one of the main strategies that help immigrants to effectively integrate into society. The Government campaign it’s one step forward, but still is not bringing decisive and substantial change, because the Italian law is too slow in adopting the significant stimulation for change coming from the real world.
This change can be obtained by learning from other European experiences that seem to have been successful .


intwegration can only happen if people abandon tjhose silly prejudices and make an effort to find out from the other people what they like, what they eat and look more at the things they have in common with rather than the differences.
If there are elements in a society that are not cooperating, that are disrupting the order, that are involved in criminal activities then they should get the same treatment whether locals or foreigners. If somebody works let him live.