Flex Your Head

Oriental women's couture. Berlin, April 2014.

Immigrant equals female. So one might be inclined to think by the significance accorded the hijab by populists. Muslim headscarves are not so much a security threat, as they are a gender-designator for outsiders. It’s pretty high concept for conservatives, for sure, but best read psychoanalytically. This is about fear. Not theory.

Witness the complex presentation of Berlin window displays, like the photograph above. The dividing line between gender and diversity is not so clear. Nor should it necessarily have to be. Women have no less a role in communicating culture than men. It’s how their half of the equation gets generalized by the conservative imaginary that’s the problem.

Especially when that culture gets gives off such an integrated vibe as this storefront presentation. The message is both Western and Oriental, Muslim and feminist. It’s as future-focused as it is descriptive of the present. That is perhaps the most utopian element here, insofar as it points towards a culmination of struggles for tolerance and normalization.

In an ideal world, the following flyer translations would be read as the back story to that effort. Photographed in Turin, and Brussels, they tell two very different stories about what it means to become regarded as European.


Commemorative flyer. Torino, September 2013.
Commemorative flyer. Torino, September 2013.




FRIDAY, 23 OF MAY 2008
Around 3 pm Fatih, detained in the CPT (Center for Temporary  Detention) in Corso Brunelleschi, is visited in the Center infirmary. He is given a drug. In the evening he’s still feeling bad but he’s not seen by a doctor. Around midnight his cell mates organize a strong protest to ask a doctor’s intervention. A Red Cross operator comes next to the area where he’s detained, saying that the doctor will not be there until the next morning.

Around 8 AM Fatih is found dead in his bed by a roommate.
On that day, inmates contact a journalist to let the news out.

SUNDAY, 25 OF MAY 2008
La Repubblica publishes an article. The inmates at the CPT are on a hunger strike. In the evening, a solidarity demonstration is organized in front of the Center.

Ausiello, the Public Prosecutor, initiates an investigation of Fatih’s death. In order to exonerate himself and his subordinates, Antonio Baldacci, the director of CPT, declares that the victim’s cell mates are  not reliable as witnesses, as they are “used to lying” because they’re illegal immigrants.

While the Minister of Internal Affairs communicates that he has arranged an inspection to “establish the truth”, from many sides it is highlighted that, independently of what caused Fatih’s, his last visitation hour must be investigated, the conduct of on-duty doctors and staff during working hours, the reason why he was not hospitalized, the reason why assistance was not provided during the night.

There are at least ten Fatih cell mates ready to testify in court about what happened.

It is also expected that surveillance camera footage will serve as a proof that the inmates repeatedly called for help and that the staff on duty did not intervene.

Many are hoping, and declare publicly, that it is necessary to reconstruct precisely what happened; that, even if nobody can give life back to Fatih. It is for this exact reason that it would be an extremely gross negligence to hide the truth.


Demo flyer. Brussels, April 2014.
Demo flyer. Brussels, April 2014.



With legal and illegal immigrants for equality, dignity and regularization
For immigrants with or without official papers, let’s unite to fight exploitation.

Together let’s demand the regularization of illegal immigrants and stop austerity policies.
Let’s demand equal rights and dignity for all!

RDV 24 April at 18h00
Beaux-arts (Rue du midi, 144)


Equality, Dignity, Normalization
Policies on migration are increasingly restrictive, violent and inhumane: hampered regulation on asylum, limited emergency medical assistance, limited family reunification.

On top of this: arbitrary arrest and time in detention centers, collective deportations or roundups on public transport. The 2009 law failed due to the vagueness of criteria and the lack of political will necessary to improve the situation for immigrants. They are many living here without any rights.

Immigrants are considered undesirable and used as scapegoats for the economic crisis.

This political scapegoat is used to make us forget who the real culprits for the economic crisis and austerity are: banks and the politicians who protect them.

Since decolonization, “our” government and “our” companies continue the relentless exploitation of natural resources of countries where immigrants come from; this is done by war if necessary.

Once they are in Europe, immigrants are forced to work on the black labor market to survive, often under extremely difficult working conditions and with low wages.

This causes competition between legal and illegal workers, and forces down wages and working conditions. It only benefits employers!

Legal and illegal workers, let’s unite and fight against exploitation. Everyone must demand the regularization of illegal immigrants and say stop to austerity. Demand equal rights and dignity for all!


Translated from the Italian by Giulia Pace, and the French, by Kit Rickard. Photographs courtesy of Joel Schalit.

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