MILAN — More than 1,000 Italians on Tuesday threw a block party featuring a pasta lunch, a brass band and crafts to welcome some 80 migrants to the neighborhood in Milan, contrasting with rising anti-migrant tensions throughout the country including a protest at the barracks the night before.

Shouts of welcome went up as a small contingent of about 30 migrants came out of a recently repurposed army barracks for what was billed as the first welcome party of its kind in Italy.

“I feel happy,” said 22-year-old Zakaria Abdellahi from Ethiopia, who arrived in Italy three months ago with his wife. “I feel like I am famous. Everywhere I look, they are taking pictures. I think I am Obama.”

The previous night the mood outside the barracks had been less welcoming. About 200 people belonging to a right-wing party and an extremist movement protested, carrying banners that read “Italians first.” Migrants peeked uneasily from the barracks’ windows overlooking the piazza, before closing the shade.


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