On Monday, July 30, 2018, 22-year-old Daisy Osakue was driving on a street near Turin, Italy, when unknown assailants levelled up with her and hurled an egg at her face.

The impact would leave Osakue in severe pains and needing a patch over her eye.

Osakue is a Nigerian born Italian athlete who should take part in next month’s European Athletics Championships in Berlin where she is due to represent Italy in the discus.

Reuters reports that Osakue’s attack could have been motivated by racism.

'Cowards'

But Osakue has chosen to take the high ground on the assault, describing her assailants as nothing but cowards.

“I don’t want to play the sexism or racism card, but people should be able to go out without someone attacking you out of the blue. They are just cowards”, Osakue told Reuters.

Italian police are investigating whether Osakue had been victim of racism.

There has been an upsurge in racist assaults in Italy in recent times.

Opposition politicians have accused far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini of creating a climate of hate in Italy following a spate of racist attacks that have coincided with his anti-immigration drive, Reuters reports.

Attacks against people of colour

“The attacks against people of different color skin is now an EMERGENCY. This is now obvious, NOBODY can deny it, especially if they sit in government,” former center-left prime minister Matteo Renzi wrote on Twitter.

The United Nations also voiced its alarm, saying it was “deeply worried” by the situation.

“We cannot tolerate this escalation of indiscriminate violence, which reveals an alarming racial matrix,” said Felipe Camargo, the southern European chief of the U.N. refugee agency.

Salvini who is head of the League party, has launched a crackdown on illegal immigration since entering a coalition government last month.

Reuters reports that Salvini has closed Italian ports to migrant rescue boats. He has also urged officials to apply tougher rules on asylum requests.

“Is there a racism emergency in Italy? Don’t be stupid,” Salvini said in a statement on Monday in response to the clamor over Osakue.

Saying he stood alongside any victim of violence, he added: “Certainly the mass immigration allowed by the left hasn't helped matters.”

Satan comparison

Salvini has come under fire from human rights groups and factions within the Roman Catholic Church for his uncompromising stance on migration.

A popular Christian magazine compared Salvini to Satan on its front cover last week.

“So many enemies, so much honor,” Salvini tweeted on Sunday in response.

Salvini dismissed concerns over racist attacks in Italy, saying migrants were to blame for a third of all crimes in the country. “This is the only true drama,” he said.

Reuters reports that at least eight migrants from various African countries have been shot by air rifles since the start of June in possible racist attacks.

Racist attacks in Italy

A Roma baby was hit by an air pellet and risks being paralysed for life. The Italian who fired the gun has denied aiming at the child.

The U.N. migration agency (OIM) said there had been 11 racist attacks in Italy since mid-June. “(This represents) an extremely worrying trend of violence and racism,” it said.

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Italian journalist, Antonello Guerrera writes that "Daisy Osakue is in the discus throw. She was injured by a bunch of guys in an allegedly racially motivated attack".