Jus Soli row erupts after school heroes promised citizenship
ROME - A row over citizenship rights in Italy has erupted after Matteo Salvini promised two school boys that they would be become full Italian nationals after they helped alert police to Ousseynou Sy’s school bus attack.
Sy was arrested last week after he hijacked and set fire to a school bus that he was driving. There were 51 children on board, amongst which Ramy Shehata and Adam El Hamami who were able to contact the police when Sy was distracted and ensure that there were no casualties or major injuries amongst their peers.
The two boys, both 13 years old, have since been lauded across the nation for their actions and were both promised full citizenship by Italy’s Interior Minister as a reward for their heroics.
However, Salvini’s decision to reward these teenagers with Italian nationality has since sparked a row over citizenship laws in the country.
Many have criticsed the government’s actions, which were seen as rewarding heroism rather than addressing wider issues regarding how citizenship is granted in Italy.
Shehata, though born and raised solely in Italy, is not an Italian citizen as he is of Egyptian descent, and there had been no sign of him being granted nationality before he helped avert catastrophe.
After the event, Shehata spoke of his delight at being awarded citizenship, but added that his “friends would remain excluded even though they too are Italian”.
Fresh calls have now been made for the introduction of the so-called Jus soli law. More commonly referred to as the birth right citizenship, the Jus soli allows those born in a nation to be granted citizenship regardless of the nationality of their parents.
Editor of la Repubblica Carlo Verdelli was amongst the voices of opposition to Salvini’s move, stating: “Citizenship is not a prize, it is a right”.
Fabio Fazio, a television host of Che tempo che fa which featured Shehata and El Hamami on Sunday, echoed these views and expressed his hope that citizenships would soon be given out.
The Partito Democratico have also voiced their support for reformed citizenship rights, declaring that they will push for the issue to be addressed and reformed.
Salvini, however, was quick to affirm that the government would not change its position on the matter.
“Citizenship comes at the end of an established path,” he told la Repubblica on Monday, “this is the law and the law will not be touched.”