A while back I was shocked top hear that Italy's interior minister Roberto Maroni had proposed a policy of police fingerprinting of all members of the Italian Roma/Gypsy Community.
Photo: Ruscombe tree
I am now even more shocked to learn that according to the Guardian newspaper, fingerprinting of Roma children has already begun. Moreover, Italy's highest appeal court has, in effect, ruled that it is acceptable to discriminate against Roma on the grounds that "all Gypsies were thieves".
As part of my postgraduate Social Work course I spent some time talking and working with travellers and gypsies in the Southampton area - there are many issues re this - see some in my previous blog here where I remember talking to a Police Officer there saying: "I have to say we don't like these travellers coming here - not because of what they do, but every thief from miles around descends on the area to target homes in the area as they know the travellers will get the blame."
It was only in May 2008 there were rumours of an abduction of a baby girl by a Gypsy woman in Naples that led to an outbreak of racist violence against Roma camps. The response by Minister Maroni to this was "that is what happens when gypsies steal babies". Of course Italy, like many countries in Europe, is concerned about immigration, crime and so on, but it is also clear that treating the Roma as second class citizens is not an answer. Gypsies suffered greatly in the Holocaust and I have been surprised there is not more out-cry towards the actions of the Italian Government. A lack of action can only give comfort to those with far right sympathies and give more confidence for them to undertake more extreme actions. As history shows, if people and nations remain silent bystanders then fascism can take root and I think that a hard stand is required.
Please sign this petition which will be sent to a summit on the future of the Roma at the European Parliament on 16th September. Please sign and spread word to everyone you know about it: www.gopetition.com/online/21275.html
See earlier blogs for my opposition to ID cards and fingerprinting in this country by using the search engine. Meanwhile on a much less serious note did you know my great-grandparents on my mothers side were Italian - that makes me a sixteenth Italian? Caio.