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PRAGUE — The horrible murder of Giovanna Reggianni that took place near a Romanian refugee camp in the suburb of Tor di Quinto in Rome shocked both Italy and Romania. The case gained significance by adding fuel to the fiery public debates now under way not only in Italy but across Europe on the status of refugees and foreign residents.

Some Italians responded violently; some Italian and Romanian politicians, eager to offer quick and tough solutions, made scandalous statements that echoed the xenophobic and totalitarian slogans of the past. We are encountering, not without irony, a kind of grotesque reverse of the “national pride” seen when cultural and sporting stars are appropriated by the state and presented as part of the collective patrimony.

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