Romano’s family as well as senior officials greeted her upon her arrival on May 10 after 18 months kidnapping in Africa.
Rabat – Italian aid worker Silvia Romano, who gained her freedom on May 10, 18 months after gunmen kidnapped her in east Africa, is facing heavy criticism after she announced she converted to Islam of her own free will.
Romano, 25, made international headlines yesterday after she arrived at Rome’s Ciampino airport after reported international efforts rescued her from Somalia.
The woman surprised the media when she arrived wearing a long green tunic and scarf.
Wearing rubber gloves, Romano removed her facemask to give the cameras a broad smile.
She then rushed to hug her family waiting for her at the airport. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and foreign minister Luigi De Maio also greeted her.
“Luckily I’m well, physically and mentally, I’m really happy … now I just want to be with my family,” she said.
Romano said she was moved often but was always with the same captors in Somalia.
“There was no marriage or relationships, just respect,” she said.
After controversial comments about Romano’s choice to convert to Islam, the Italian foreign minister said her return to be among her family is the only thing that counts, according to ANSA.
“That intense, infinite, true, and moving embrace between Silvia and her father, mother and sister moved everybody,” De Maio said.
He added: “Silvia is alive, she is well. Now, please, a bit of respect.”
Some media claimed Italy paid a ransom for Romano’s release, causing heavy criticism from some in the right-wing sphere of the country.
The head of right-wing newspaper Libero, Vittorio Feltri, tweeted that by paying a ransom for Romano’s release, the Italian government was funding her “friends” and “financing terrorists.”
A me se una si converte all’Islam non mi importa niente ma non mi va neanche di applaudirla. Mi secca un poco se per riportarla in Italia lo Stato spende qualche milione degli italiani.
— Vittorio Feltri (@vfeltri) May 10, 2020
The director of Il Giornale, Alessandro Sallusti, echoed Feltri’s statement, tweeting: “Silvia is back, well but it was like seeing a concentration camp prisoner proudly dressed as a Nazi. I don’t understand, I will never understand.”
Silvia è tornata, bene ma è stato come vedere tornare un prigioniero dei campi di concentramento orgogliosamente vestito da nazista. Non capisco, non capirò mai
— Alessandro Sallusti (@alesallusti) May 10, 2020
In 2018, gunmen abducted the Italian, working for Italian charity Africa Milele, from a small rural hotel in Kilifi County in south-eastern Kenya .