Published: Thu, June 21, 2018
Worldwide | By Jermaine Blake

Italian interior minister takes aim at Roma with census

Italian interior minister takes aim at Roma with census

They are carrying 630 migrants who were rescued from the Mediterranean Sea near Malta and Italy by the ship's crew of Aquarius one week ago.

Italy's hard-line interior minister, who recently sparked a multinational showdown by refusing entry to a Mediterranean Sea rescue boat packed with 630 migrants, is now taking aim at Italy's minority Roma community.

He claimed that they are the countries of origin from which criminals in Italian prisons are most numerous and added that Italy would "unfortunately" have to keep Roma found to have Italian nationality.

On Tuesday, he dug in his heels. Interior minster #Salvini is calling for a Roma census.

The League leader then clarified his position, insisting he was not proposing a register after all.

"I'm not giving up and I'm pushing ahead!"

Salvini has been very clear about not wanting anyone who is illegal on Italian soil.

Reaction was immediate. Luigi Di Maio - leader of the Five Star Movement, coalition partner of Salvini's far-right League party - said a census on an ethnic basis was not constitutional, so "we can't do it". The prime minister did not comment publicly.

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Noemi Di Segni, the president of Italy's union of Jewish communities, said the proposal recalled the Fascist racial laws.

Salvini, leader of the League party, is considered the most powerful political figure in Italy, more so than the prime minister, a little-known independent who was chosen by the governing coalition to be the ostensible head of the barely three-week-old government. He said Italy would no longer be "Europe's refugee camp".

Despite the criticism, Salvini stuck to his guns on Tuesday.

Salvini has not been shy about extreme views since the new government was installed on June 1.

However, "polls show that Italians are backing the interior minister, who is now polling about equal to Di Maio, at 29%, in terms of popularity", The Guardian reports.

At least 150,000 Roma, sometimes called gypsies, live in Italy, with roots reaching back to the 14th century. "We're moving forward", Salvini said, defending the counting of the Roma community in the country was necessary for reasons of security.

He would learn, Stasolla said, that "six out of seven Roma pay taxes", most own homes or pay rent, and that only about 26,000 live in camps, "segregated areas" that were "created by previous right-leaning governments", or in informal settlements, he said. Less than half of the Roma have Italian citizenship, according to most estimates. Many come from Romania and the former Yugoslavia. We intend to protect thousands of children who are not allowed to attend schools regularly because they prefer to introduce them to delinquency.

A Roma Nation Association statement noted that the authorities had carried out a count of the community a year ago and called for a meeting with Salvini at the earliest opportunity.

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