Barefoot protests in solidarity with refugees rock Italy

Stars and VIPs due to take protest to Venice Filmfest

(ANSA) - Rome, September 11 - An unprecedented red carpet event was set to take place at the Venice Film Festival Friday with representatives of barefoot marchers walking from the canal city's Lido to protest the plight of Syrian refugees. Thousands of people attended other similar barefoot protests in different parts of the country, including Rome, Mantua and Naples.
    Among those expected to arrive barefoot at the Venice festival red carpet were labour union leader Susanna Camusso, left-wing politician Nikki Vendola and director Marco Bellocchio, among other VIPs.
    Immediately afterwards was due to arrive at the Festival the delegation for the film in competition 'Per Amor Vostro' directed by Giuseppe M. Gaudino with Valeria Golino, Massimiliano Gallo, Adriano Giannini and all the other actors.
    In Mantua, meanwhile, writers and intellectuals from the city's literary festival were taking part in another barefoot march including African author Noo Saro-Wiwa, organised crime historian Enzo Ciconte, and engineer Gianni Silvestrini as well as photographer Mario Boccia.
    "I want to show solidarity with the refugees because it seems to me there is not enough empathy with them," said Noo Saro-Wiwa, author of 'In search of Transworldland, in which he recounts his return to Nigeria as an adult. His book recently was published in Italy.
    "We have to be able to guarantee these people a safe place to have refuge until the situation in Syria improves," he said.
    The march supported by city and provincial governments was leaving the piazza Canossa at 7:30 p.m. and was to snake through the roads of Mantua's historic centre to end up at the piazza Martiri.
    In Naples, a barefoot march left the central Piazza Plebiscito in a protest organised by Amnesty International supported by 50 civil society groups with some 1000 people taking off their shoes and taking part.
    "Bare feet are a very strong symbol to make you feel nearer as possible to migrants and the discomfort they can have undergone during their journeys," said Serena Salzano, a young Amnesty volunteer.
    "It is a bit sad seeing all these people who only felt involved in the tragedy after seeing the photo of the (dead) child on the beach, but since then something has changed in public opinion".