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Italian Immigrants Stage 24-Hour Strike

Across Italy, immigrants staged a 24-hour strike to highlight the importance they play in society and to protest against episodes of racism and discrimination.

It is the first "national strike" of foreigners, called to bring "visibility" to the immigrants living and working in Italy. In 60 towns and cities across the country tens of thousands, many of them immigrants, but also Italians, took to the streets.

In squares across the country demonstrations marked by the color yellow were held to highlight the importance of immigration for the socio-economic and cultural fabric of the country, as announced by the organizers, The Day Without Us Committee.

Similar protests were held in France, Spain and Greece under the same yellow banner bringing together foreigners, EU citizens, second-generation immigrants and "anyone rejecting racism and any form of discrimination".

The initiative was inspired by the 2006 protest against immigration policies by Latin Americans in the United States.

This demonstrator in Milan says to immigrate is not a crime. Illegal immigrants equals criminality is an old tune. The state needs to realize it has to face these new citizens.

They say their jobs are important. Some are baby-sitters, others look after the elderly or sick, many work in the fields picking fruit and vegetables or in the industries in the north.

They come from Eastern Europe, from South America and from Africa. In Italy they are more than four million.

This African man says he wants to have the same rights Italians have because he and others are working in industry and farms.

Many Italians are only too aware of the need for foreign labor.

This man has a farm where they raise cattle. He says they need foreign workers, especially Indians who are very good with animals.

With many demonstrators calling for the need to give foreigners the dignity they deserve, there are also those who do not agree and say what needs to be defended is the right of Italian workers. And to get their point across they will be taking part in a counter-demonstration Tuesday on the outskirts of Milan, organized by the Northern League Party.