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Home / World News / ‘I am a human, not a virus’: Italian man’s anti-racist campaign wins hearts

‘I am a human, not a virus’: Italian man’s anti-racist campaign wins hearts

Massimiliano Martigli Jiang also cheered the people of Wuhan, the Chinese city at the epicentre of coronavirus outbreak.

world Updated: Feb 14, 2020 11:28 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Massimiliano Martigli Jiang with the message board in Florence, Italy.
Massimiliano Martigli Jiang with the message board in Florence, Italy.(Facebook/Massimiliano Martigli Jiang)

As the deadly coronavirus has spread worldwide, it has carried with it xenophobia - and Asian communities around the world are finding themselves subject to suspicion and fear.

A man decided to do something about it, and came up with a novel campaign. Massimiliano Martigli Jiang, an Italian-Chinese, stood blindfolded and with a mask in Italy’s Florence with a message board which read “I am not a virus, I am a human being, free me from prejudice”.

Jiang lives in Florence and was touched by the responses he got. Many people hugged Jian, and some even removed the blindfold. He uploaded a video of the people’s reaction on his Facebook page and Instagram.  

“This video was one of those things that didn’t make me sleep the day before, it put me anxiety while waiting for filming, during and all the moments later. But now. Thanks to your beautiful words, you made me cry so much!” he wrote on Facebook. The video, uploaded more than a week ago, has been widely shared in Italian media.

He also cheered the people of Wuhan, the Chinese city at the epicentre of coronavirus outbreak. “Come on Wuhan - Come on China,” Jiang said in his Facebook post.

China has put Wuhan and other cities where the virus has spread, under unprecedented lockdown. The diease is now officially known as Covid-19.

There has been a spike in reports of anti-Chinese rhetoric directed at people of Asian origin, regardless of whether they have ever visited the centre of the epidemic or been in contact with the virus.

Chinese tourists have reportedly been spat at in the Italian city of Venice, a family in Turin was accused of carrying the disease, and mothers in Milan have used social media to call for children to be kept away from Chinese classmates.

In Canada, a man was filmed telling a Chinese-Canadian woman “you dropped your coronavirus” in the parking lot of a local mall.

In Malaysia, a petition to “bar Chinese people from entering our beloved country” received almost 500,000 signatures in one week.

“It’s a common phenomenon,” said Rob Grenfell, director of health and biosecurity for Australia’s science and research agency CSIRO. “Sure it emerged in China,” he said of the coronavirus, “but that’s no reason to actually vilify Chinese people.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned against “measures that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade”, but this has not stopped scores of countries from introducing travel bans.