09 July 2008

Anti-Rom Racism in Italy

As an appreciator of Rom music and culture, I was deeply disturbed though not surprised to read about a proposed plan to fingerprint all Rom (Gypsies) in Italy, to track them -- supposedly for their own safety. There's an online petition you can sign if you, like me, find this racist and objectionable. (Thanks to Elizabeth for bringing this to my attention.)

The Home Minister of Italy and member of North League, Roberto Maroni, announced recently that he intends recording the fingerprints of Rroms located in Italy. In the most cynical way, he justifies this measure by the need to protect the children!

This proposal has been widely criticized by Italian politicians, culture’s personnalities, by civil society, the Council of Europe and the European Commission, but Mr. Maroni continues despite everything to defend his proposal.

The Berlusconi government is criticized in Europe and in democratic world for its persecution policies towards the Rroms. In its 27th June editorial, The Independent qualified this behaviour a «spasm of cruelty» and the party of Mr. Maroni as a «notoriously xenophobic » one. The editorial ends with this lapidary statement : « Every act of popular violence against foreigners, every instance of official discrimination against the Roma, diminishes the country's claim to be regarded as a civilised nation.»

We fully agree and say NO to this proposal, which recalls the darkest years of European and world history! Let us not forget that the Rroms were often « guinea pigs » of repression and extermination policies, as those Rromani children from Czech on which the Nazis tested the "Zyklon B" before generalizing its use it in the gas chambers.

Sign the petition against any ethnic filing of the Rroms

Petition website: http://www.petitiononline.com/08041971/petition.html

For more background on the Roma, check out the excellent book Bury Me Standing: The Gypsies and Their Journey by Isabel Fonseca, and Princes Amongst Men: Journeys with Gypsy Musicians (and companion CD) by Garth Cartwright.

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