Now the government Black Shirts plan to follow Hitler's path with a program to fingerprint every Roma in the country (pictured here are police marching through a gypsy camp moments before they forced residents out).
Isabella Clough Marinaro writes in the Guardian:
"Seventy years ago this month Italy's Fascist regime published a "Manifesto of Race", which paved the way for its notorious racial laws persecuting Jews and members of other supposedly "inferior" minorities."
Now the country's rightwing government has stepped up special measures against another entire ethnic grouping — the Roma — provoking warnings by a Catholic publication that Italy was forgetting the lessons of the past."
In what is described as a census, Italy's Roma would be photographed and fingerprinted in preparation...for what. A member of the Northern League party in Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's fascist government, Roberto Maroni the Interior Minister, says the whole thing is being done "to prevent phenomena such as begging."
“Perhaps the Left dreams of an Italy populated by lots of Oliver Twists exploited by the Fagin of the day,” Osvaldo Napoli, a right wing deputy, said. “But we are not in the Victorian England of Dickens, and children cannot wander abandoned through the streets of our cities.”
Of course, it is Roma settlements which have been criminally attacked and fire-bombed by gangs of thugs, while the Corte di Cassazione (Supreme Court) has assented to anti-Roma racism on the basis that it is justified because — it says — Roma are ‘all thieves’.
It is only two generations ago that such a coldly administrative measure as this fingerprinting plan was the prelude to mass deportations, imprisonment, torture and death.
Gypsies were among the first victims of the Nazis.
Writes Isabella Clough Marinaro again:
"The popular Catholic magazine Famiglia Cristiana denounced the move as "an indecent and racist proposal" reminiscent of "when Jewish children were identified with a yellow star on their sleeves". It declared that "Italy still hasn't come to terms with its tragic responsibilities and has not shown enough shame" about its racist past. This is particularly true of the present government "if a minister injects the concept of race into the country's laws"."
Famiglia Cristiana wrote the plan was evidence of a "creeping racism" and, in fact, meant that the children were being "enrolled in a list of 'probable future criminals.'"
The magazine expressed concern over the fact that several government ministers who ran as faithful Catholics have not opposed Maroni publicly, but said it was not surprised that Alessandra Mussolini, the head of the Italian Parliament's commission for children and granddaughter of the former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, did not because "ethnic and religious indexing are part of her family's DNA."
Oh yeah, get this, the Red Cross has signed up to help...the government stigmatize the Roma.
For all of the attention this has received in the Italian bourgeois press — a few column inches here and there — it appears that the selection of Roma for ’special measures’ is nothing out of the ordinary and of little import.
“Our children do not steal,” says Vanda Colombo in the searing heat of a Gypsy camp on the outskirts of Verona. “The older ones go out to do honest work. We are Italian Gypsies, not foreigners. We are scapegoats.”
She adds, "This is like the Shoah, the Holocaust. The Nazis exterminated Gypsies as well as Jews, and this kind of discrimination is how it started. If they come here and try to fingerprint our children we will stop them.”
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."
And of course Di Segni is right.
And in fact already it isn't only gypsies who the new fascists are out to get. The government says it will shut down a controversial mosque in Milan. Roberto Maroni, said that he would close the Jenner Mosque by August, citing complaints over noise. It attracts more than 4,000 worshippers each week, with Friday prayers often spilling out on to the street.
The Roman Catholic Church in Milan has come out in support of the Muslim community. Monsignor Bottoni, the priest in charge of inter-faith relations, said only a Fascist government would resort to such tactics.
Roberto Marino says he could care less what the Monsignor thinks.
On Monday, hundreds took to the streets of Rome of the government fingerprinting scheme.
The demonstration was organized by the ARCI cultural association, which encouraged participants to give their own fingerprints in a petition of protest called the "imprint of racism."
The following is from EU Business.
Euro-MPs protest to Italy over Roma fingerprint row
(STRASBOURG) - More than 100 members of the European Parliament, including party group leaders, on Wednesday added their fingerprints to a petition protesting Italy's policy on gypsies.
"We urge the Italian government and authorities to refrain from proceeding to the collection of fingerprints of Roma, including minors, as this would clearly constitute an act of discrimination based on race and ethnic origin," said the petition, which was signed by 120 deputies.
Giusto Catania, an Italian communist MEP who organised the protest, said: "This is a strong political act that aims to demand an immediate end to this action. We are going to send it to the Italian government right away."
Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni, a member of the right-wing Northern League party, which is part of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right coalition, said recently that Roma would be fingerprinted.
The operation would be carried out with police and with the cooperation of the Red Cross, he added.
In a draft resolution, set to be endorsed Thursday, the MEPs urged Italy not to collect fingerprints from Roma gypsies, until the European Commission could investigate the situation.
It was unacceptable they said, "to violate their fundamental rights and to criminalise them," even given their stated aim of protecting children.
Maroni has said that children would be fingerprinted "to prevent phenomena such as begging."
EU Justice Commissioner Jacques Barrot said on Monday there were risks with such a policy and called for a report from Maroni on Italy's plans by the end of the month.