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Old 07-01-2008, 08:36 PM   #1
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Beware The Gypsy Menace

Italy's highest appeal court has ruled that it is acceptable to discriminate against Roma on the grounds that they are thieves.

The judgment, made public yesterday, comes amid a nationwide clampdown on the Roma community by Silvio Berlusconi's government. Last week his interior minister, Roberto Maroni, announced plans to fingerprint all of Italy's Roma, including children.

The ruling by the court of cassation, which appears to provide judicial backing for the government's policies, was handed down in March, but reported only yesterday. The judges overthrew the conviction of six defendants who signed a leaflet demanding the expulsion of Verona's Gypsies in 2001.

Among those convicted of racially discriminatory propaganda was Flavio Tosi, an official of the anti-immigrant Northern League, who has since become Verona's mayor. He was quoted by a witness at his trial as having said afterwards: "The Gypsies must be ordered out because, wherever they arrive, there are robberies."

The court of cassation decided this did not show Tosi was a racist, but that he had "a deep aversion [to Roma] that was not determined by the Gypsy nature of the people discriminated against, but by the fact that all the Gypsies were thieves". His dislike of them was "not therefore based on a notion of superiority or racial hatred, but on racial prejudice". The judges scrapped the two-month jail sentences and ordered that the case be reheard.

Their ruling was published hours before police in Verona arrested eight Roma of Croatian origin accused of having induced minors to carry out burglaries in northern Italy. The arrests were co-ordinated by the prosecutor who charged Tosi and the others seven years ago.

Franco Frattini, the foreign minister, who until earlier this year was the European commissioner for justice and human rights, applauded the fingerprinting initiative, saying: "These things are done in many other European countries." He and other government supporters said the main beneficiaries would be Roma children at risk of being forced to break the law.

But an opposition MP, Gian Claudio Bressa, said the government was enacting measures "that increasingly resemble those of an authoritarian regime". On Sunday Maroni's top aide was reported to have imposed a vow of silence on three special commissioners appointed to deal with what the Italian media calls "the Roma emergency".
Italy: Court inflames Roma discrimination row | World news | The Guardian


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Old 07-02-2008, 02:17 AM   #2
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I was going to start a thread on this topic awhile back and never got around to it. While this was an appalling judgment, I doubt that anyone who's been following the situation of Roma in Italy lately would be surprised by it--the "Security Pacts" issued in Rome and Milan, effectively giving police carte blanche in Roma camps; the uptick in violent racist attacks, most recently in May in Naples where a mob of about 60 Italians burnt local Roma camps to the ground with Molotov cocktails; the vigilante 'neighborhood patrols' that have sprung up in numerous Italian cities; and the rhetoric of fear and foreignness coming from right-wing politicans, most notably Northern League officials ("All Gypsies must go"--Davide Boni; "People do what the state can't manage", with reference to the Naples attack, and "We have 300,000 martyrs ready to come down from the mountains; our rifles are always smoking" should Rome's new mayor fail to 'get tough' on Roma--Umberto Bossi; and then there's the aforementioned Flavio Tosi of Verona). And regardless of one's opinion on hate speech laws in general, 'He said Gypsies must be driven out because they're all thieves, not because they're Gypsies, so it's OK' is a hell of a scary rationale for not applying them if you're going to have them.

In the mid-'90s a friend of mine taught English at a high school in a small Czech town which, according to a New York Times article I sent him, had the dubious distinction at that time of having the country's (and one of Europe's) highest rates of violent attacks on Roma, most of which the local police shrugged off. When he cautiously raised the topic with a group of his Czech colleagues at the school, all seemingly progressive types, they all had the same response: 'Yes, it was terrible when that mob burnt that boy to death/threw that woman through a window/beat that man to a pulp...but, you have to understand, these people are dirty and they smell bad and they're liars and thieves.' No mention of due process, the rule of law, the dangers of paranoid stereotyping or anything like that. Some of the comments I've read coming from Italy over the past several months have reminded me unnervingly of his experience.

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Old 07-03-2008, 08:19 PM   #3
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There are quite a lot of these Roma immigrants in Dublin now and frankly they are not popular at all.

Fortunately we haven't quite descended to the level of burning them alive.
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Old 07-03-2008, 08:53 PM   #4
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The problem in Italy is also exacerbated somewhat by the mass exodus of Roma from the Balkans in the early-mid 1990s. When the civil war broke out in the former YU, they basically all picked up and fled, and they existed in the Balkans in relatively significant numbers. This flooded nearby countries like Hungary and Italy, which were already hostile to the population as it is.
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Old 07-06-2008, 04:41 PM   #5
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i think it's fair to say the vast majority of slovaks feel a great deal of hatrid toward gypsies.

i've seen why they feel that way for myself. sure it's the easy way out to lump them all as being the same, and indeed, it's not fair. but for fuck sakes... what a travesty that was.
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Old 07-06-2008, 07:44 PM   #6
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Without sounding racist. A sizeable proportion of these gypsies dont live within the laws of their adopted countries. I might even go as far as saying they are lawless.

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