Italy’s far-right, Interior minister Matteo Salvini is reportedly a big fan of Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. So naturally, he has the same stance on immigrants as the above two.
Salvini, who is the head of the anti-immigrant Lega Nord party, announced a plan to conduct a survey of Italy’s Roma population and to keep their records in a “register.” He also defended his actions and said he wasn’t racist because his new initiative had nothing to do with racial profiling.
“We will have a register and not a profile,” Salvini said, pointing out they will not be “taking the fingerprints of anyone.” He said the aim of the census is “to protect … thousands of [Roma] children, who are not allowed to attend school regularly because their kinfolk prefer to involve them in delinquency.”
However, it’s clear he bears nothing but contempt for the Roma population as he was heard quoting, “Irregular [undocumented] foreigners will be deported via agreements with other countries, but Italian Roma unfortunately you have to keep at home.”
Italy is home to 130,000 to 170,000 Roma, around half of whom are Italian citizens. Salvini has a long history of targeting the minority population and during his campaign, pledged mass deportation of undocumented immigrants in Italy. His party has also proposed making it easier for authorities to separate children from families if they were found not to be attending school. He has also accused Roma of preferring criminal activity to work and has called to bulldoze their camps.
Roma people have been persecuted in Europe for centuries and were also targeted by the Third Reich during Nazi Germany. In Italy, decades of persecution has resulted in ghettos and camps that have segregated Roma communities, despite the fact Roma have been present in the country for over half a century and are more Italian than some other compatriots.
Roma frequently became target of hate crimes and encounter discrimination when looking for employment or permanent housing. In fact, a 2015 survey found Italy has a more negative view of Roma than any other European Union country.
Salvini’s latest racist move was described by left-wing politicians as “ethnic cleansing” and compared him to Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini
“We cannot allow a census for a race,” Emmanuele Fiano, an MP from the center-left Democratic Party said. “People can be divided … by their behavior, by their choices but not by their birth. It did not end well 80 years ago.”
“The way is short from a census to a concentration camp. Salvini apparently decided to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the racial laws,” Chiara Gribaudo, another MP from the Democratic Party said.
Last week, Salvini also refused to let a migrant ship, Aquarius, carrying 629 people dock in Italy, despite the fact Rome has ordered the southern Europe bloc to immediately allow entry and resettlement for migrants arriving on their shores. So far, many other European Union countries have resisted the call.
Thumbnail/Banner Credits: Reuters