Kidnapped aid worker who converted to Islam gets threats upon return

Silvia Romano, escorted by police, lowers her face mask for the press as she arrives at her home in Milan. (AP pic)

ROME: Italian investigators are probing Islamophobic threats against a humanitarian worker who converted to Islam during a kidnapping in Kenya and returned to Italy following her release, media reported on Tuesday.

Investigating magistrates in the northern city of Milan have opened a probe into the threats against Silvia Romano and police have stepped up patrols around her home.

Romano was 23 and working as a volunteer in an orphanage in Chakama village in southeast Kenya when she was seized by gunmen in November 2018.

Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte met with Romano in Rome on Sunday. She said that she had converted to Islam during her detention of her own free will.

“People like her would be executed by US states that apply the death penalty,” said one anonymous social media post.

“Have you ever heard of a Jew who, after being freed from a concentration camp, converted to Nazism and went home in an SS uniform?” wrote Simone Angelosante, a regional councillor for the far-right Islamophobic League party, referring to Romano’s conversion.

“Am I happy about Silvia Romano being freed? Absolutely not. Now we will have one more Muslim and €4 million less,” wrote Massimo Giorgetti, vice-president of the northern Veneto region, according to the AGI news agency.

Giorgetti subsequently deleted his Facebook post.

Italian media have said that the government paid a ransom to free Romano. Five people including three children were shot and wounded during the attack on the orphanage.

The government has denied paying a ransom, but media reports say that between €1.5 million and €4 million was paid.