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Wednesday, 9 July 2008


On the 13th of May a woman in a suburb of Naples in Italy alleged that a young Roma girl had broken into her apartment and tried to kidnap her baby. Within hours of the accusation a local mob of several hundred Italians attacked the Roma camp throwing Molatov cocktails, scattering the inhabitants and burning the place to the ground.

Far-right governments have a grand tradition of blaming 'the other' particularly in times of economic hardship and stagnation as we find in Italy today. This tactic is being used to full effect in Italy by the right-wing government led by Berlusconi and including the far-right, anti-immigration Northern League.

Since they arrived in power the government and the (Berlusconi owned) media have been whipping up a storm of controversy and rumour around the Roma gypsies. Blaming them for a rising crime rate and suggesting that the ordinary Italian is 'living in fear'. As a result the minister of the Interior Roberto Maroni has declared a 'security emergency'. The first part of tackling this emergency came in early May when the police began a series of mass expulsions of Roma from their camps at the edges of the major Italian cities.

However, worse may be yet to come as a law is being proposed that will allow the Italian government to keep a fingerprint database of all of the Roma- including children. This is nothing short of an ethnic catalogue. Not since the 1930s have such blatantly racist policies been seen in Europe.

Mr Maroni says that the register will help protect Roma children who are not always sent to school, but as UNICEF Italy state that if that was really case that they would treat ALL Italian children in the same way not just the Roma.

High profile figures from the Italian Jewish community such as Riccardo Di Segni, chief Rabbi of Rome and Amos Luzzatto from Italy's Union of Jewish Communities have registered their protest against the policies. As Di Segni puts it "We have to be on the alert, not only because of what is happening but because of what could happen. First one group is singled out, then another. This must be stopped."

These Italian policies are in clear violation of the EU anti-discrimination rules and respect for fundamental rights. As a mark of my protest against the activities of the Italian government I have added my signature and fingerprint to a letter of protest to Mr Berlusconi here at the Parliament. I will also be voting to ask the European Commission to take action against the Italian government if it decides to proceed with these plans.

And if anyone thinks that such a horror could not happen in Britain may I please refer you to the manifesto of the BNP.

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