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African migrants clash with police on Italy’s Lampedusa island? No, clip of brawl outside nightclub in 2021

IN SHORT: An estimated 15,000 people from African countries landed on Lampedusa in September 2023 in a record surge in migration. But a viral video of a crowd of men fighting doesn’t show the migrants “demanding” entrance to Europe.

Thousands of migrants in small boats arrived on the tiny Mediterranean island of Lampedusa in September 2023. They had reportedly set off from Tunisia in North Africa and came from across the continent.

Lampedusa is part of the European country of Italy but lies closer to Africa. This has, for decades, made the island a destination for migrants.

The journey to Lampedusa is dangerous. Over the years, hundreds of people have died in the crossing.

But the September 2023 influx was something new. One report was that, by 20 September, more than 15,000 migrants had landed on Lampedusa. There have been suggestions that the surge in migration was a result of disasters in north African countries earlier in the month: floods in Libya and the earthquake in Morocco.

Many reports emphasise that the number of new migrants is much more than Lampedusa’s population of some 6,000 Italian citizens. The island’s migrant reception centre was designed for just 400 people.

As news of the influx hit headlines, a video started circulating on social media with the claim it showed the migrants fighting Italian police and “demanding” entrance to Europe.

In the chaotic clip, a large crowd of men scuffle between parked cars on a road next to an open field. At one point several men assault another, in uniform, next to a police vehicle. People behind a fence shout in Italian as they look on the brawl.

“In Italy. Direct clashes between migrants and police began on the island of Lampedusa,” reads a typical caption. “Illegal immigrants throw stones at the carabinieri and demand that they be sent to Europe.”

The carabinieri are Italy’s paramilitary police.

Another caption reads:

In Italy, after a massive incoming of migrants from Africa to the island of Lampedusa, clashes began.

There are now more migrants than Italians on the island. The police cannot manage the situationn. They are setting up impromptu road blockades trying to prevent migrants from getting further into the country.

A third asks: “Where’s the army?”

But does the video really show the start of “clashes” between “illegal immigrants” and Italian police on Lampedusa in September 2023?


Punch-up after all-night party at Miu Disco Dinner

Africa Check took screenshots of the video and put them through Lens, a Google app that searches for the sources of images.

This led us to several Italian news reports about a fight outside a nightclub in Marotta di Mondolfo on Italy’s northeastern mainland in August 2021 – two years before the video went viral again. All the articles include the video or frames from it. One outlet posted the video on Facebook.

The reports say the brawl started in the early morning after an all-night music event at Miu Disco Dinner in Mondolfo. One person was stabbed and two carabinieri beaten.

The video was not shot on Lampedusa in 2023.

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