Tuesday, June 19, 2018
Stephanie Kirchgaessner - Outcry over far-right Italian minister's call for Roma 'register'
On Monday Salvini ordered the census and the removal of all non-Italian Roma – which he called an “answer to the Roma question” – and said he wanted to know “who, and how many” there were.
“Unfortunately we will have to keep the Italian Roma because we can’t expel them,” Salvini said on Telelombardia. Salvini is on record as having praised Benito Mussolini, the Italian fascist leader, and his new policy has sparked comparisons by the centre-left Democratic party to ethnic cleansing rules introduced in the late 1920s that also targeted the Roma.
“The interior minister does not seem to know that a census on the basis of ethnicity is not permitted by the law,” Carlo Stasolla, president of the Associazione 21 Luglio, which supports Roma rights, told the Ansa news agency. “We also recall that Italian Roma have been present in our country for at least half a century and sometimes they are ‘more Italian’ than many of our fellow citizens.”
Francesco Palermo, a former senator in Italy and human rights expert who has defended the rights of Roma, said it would be legally impossible to pursue the creation of an ethnic-specific census and expulsions as Salvini described, because the issue had already been taken up by Italian courts in the past, where it was rejected. But he said the bigger problem was that the reaction to Salvini was generally positive, and that his popularity was growing despite the extreme nature of his positions.
“It is very simple and very scary. Except for intellectuals and certain journalists, most people would say there is nothing wrong with this, and that is the tricky point. Salvini knows this. It is a just a means to get political support,” Palermo said.
He added that reactions would be different if Salvini was targeting other groups of people who face discrimination, but that racist views about the Roma are “innate” among many people in Italy.
Up to 180,000 Roma live in Italy, about 43% of whom are Italian citizens. About 4,000 Roma live in state-sanctioned ghettos in Rome, according to a 2013 report by Amnesty International. These out-of-city ghettoes consist of pre-fabricated containers or mobile homes in fenced-off areas, often without adequate sanitation or clean drinking water. Inhabitants are excluded from other social housing despite many having lived in Italy for generations. An Italian court in 2015 ordered the city of Rome to dismantle some of the state-sanctioned Roma facilities, after it said the capital was guilty of ethnic discrimination... read more:https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/19/italy-coalition-rift-roma-register-matteo-salvini
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