13-Year-Old Hero in Italy Bus Attack Ramy Shehata to Get Italian Citizenship, Salvini Calls Him ‘Son’
Ramy Shehata, the son of an Egyptian immigrant, would have otherwise been eligible for Italian citizenship only after he turns 18.
Ramy Shehata, the 13-year-old boy from Egypt who saved the lives of 50 other children during last week’s shocking school bus attack in Italy, will be granted Italian citizenship, with the country’s hardline far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini referring to the boy as his “son”.
Ramy Shehata saved the lives of his classmates and his own last week when their bus driver Oussenyou Sy, a 47-year-old Italian citizen originally from Senegal, hijacked the bus full of children and was seemingly prepared to burn them inside.
Ramy, however, managed to hide his mobile phone and alert his father about the hostage situation, and from there the Italian police managed to intervene quickly and successfully to avoid a possible massacre.
“Yes to citizenship for Ramy because it’s as if he was my son and he showed he understood the values of this country,” Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said, as cited by ANSA.
Salvini is the architect of the measures adopted by the Italian government to limit the influx of migrants from the Middle East and Africa through the Mediterranean, precisely the grievance school bus hijacker Oussenyou Sy is reported to have acted upon.
13-year-old hero Ramy Shehata’s father emigrated from Egypt to Italy in 2001, and while Ramy was reportedly born in Italy, he was never issued official documents.
According to Italian law, children of immigrant parents are eligible to apply for citizenship after they turn 18.
“My son did his duty, it would be nice if he got Italian citizenship now. We would love to stay in this country,” Khaled Shehata, Ramy’s father, told ANSA.
Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, leader of the anti-immigration League party, at first had said that awarding Ramy Shehata citizenship for his act of heroism would first require a background check on his father, Khaled Shehata.
On Tuesday, however, Salvini declared he had changed his mind, saying that immigration laws “can be overcome for acts of skill or courage”.
Luigi Di Maio, Italy’s other Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the leftist Five Stars Movement, said he was “happed” that he had managed to convince Salvini to granting Ramy Shehata Italian citizenship.
13-year-old Ramy made the call to his father from the hijacked bus while pretending to pray in Arabic.
“No-one will survive,” the hijacker, 47-year-old Ousseynou Sy, had allegedly told the children upon taking their mobile phones.
When the bus crashed into police vehicles, Sy managed get out and set it on fire but the police succeeded in getting all school children and their adult teachers out safely through the back of the bus.
The bus was found to have been missing all safety hammers designed to break through the windows.
Ramy is one of a total of five boys who survived the school bus attack to have been invited to meet Italy’s Interior Minister Salvini.
Of the others, Fabio tried to talk to the hijacker to calm him down, Nicolo offered himself as a hostage, and Adam who, like Ramy, also managed to hide a mobile and call the police.
“Stop the deaths at sea, I’ll carry out a massacre,” school bus driver Ousseynou Sy reportedly shouted during the standoff with the police.
According to Alberto Nobili, head of counter-terrorism at the Milan public prosecutor’s offices, the suspect had not associated with any banned groups or movements.
“It was my personal choice, I could no longer see children torn apart by sharks in the Mediterranean Sea, pregnant women dead,” Sy told the police, as cited by Nobili.
The investigators are still trying to obtain a video Sy had recorded, in which he spoke of his motives, and that can be the key to qualifying the attack as an act of terrorism.
The Italian Interior Ministry is considering revoking his Italian citizenship because of the school bus attack.
It has been revealed that Sy has two prior convictions, one for sexual assault and another one for drunk driving.
(Banner image: Video grab from ANSA)