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Roma scavengers in Italy. Photo supplied

Tensions bubbling in Rome suburb against Roma social housing

Tensions are bubbling in Rome's suburbs against the Roma. In via Diego Angeli, just a few hundred meters from the building where the residents revolted against the assignment of welfare accommodation to a Roma family, death threats appeared against native Italians.

Published: May 21, 2019, 9:16 am

    Rome

    After the events in via Sebastiano Satta, the popular district that rebelled against the presence of Roma, the air is still heavy.

    The warning was directed against Fabrizio Montanini and Mauro Antonini, respectively the coordinator of the zone committees and the manager for CasaPound Italia, a political party in Italy born as a network of conservative social centres arising from the occupation of a state-owned building by squatters in the neighbourhood of Esquilino in Rome on 26 December 2003.

    The threat against the children of the two politicians appeared on the walls in the same street where the leftwing Democratic Party is preparing to inaugurate a new housing centre.

    Montanini told Italian daily Il Giornale that “our recent battles in the neighborhood have never been directly against the families assigned to the public housing but are intended to condemn these housing policies to the detriment of the forgotten and struggling Italians”.

    “I will never let anyone intimidate me, and my children have, as long as it is needed, a combative person on their side who, if it happens, is ready to lay down his life for their defense,” said Montanini.

    “I am still waiting for the condemnation by the secretary of the Democratic Party [Nicola] Zingaretti, who today will inaugurate the housing centre.”

    The Rome public prosecutor has since charged 24 Italian suspects for instigating “racial hatred, private violence, a seditious gathering and an apology of fascism”, but has done nothing about the threats against the children of CasaPound politicians.

    In a television interview last June, Matteo Salvini, Italian Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, responding to pleas that he rescue the city from a takeover by “gypsies”, said: “I am not Batman.”

    Instead he proposed a census of Italy’s Roma population so that the non-Italian Roma could be expelled from the country. About the Italian Roma, he remarked: “Purtroppo te li devi tenere in Italia.” [Unfortunately you have to keep them in Italy]

    When Italian authorities launched a forcible eviction of a principal Roma camp in Rome, the action was strongly condemned by Amnesty International, because it had been carried out “in defiance of a ruling from the European Court of Human Rights”.

    Public animosity toward the Roma, estimated to number up to 180 000, is at an all-time high in Italy. A 2016 Pew Research Center survey, found that 82 percent of Italians held anti-Roma views — much higher than in any other European nation.

    Meanwhile, near Catania, another Italian elementary school teacher was suspended for two days for hitting a young pupil on Monday.

    The boy’s mother says that the teacher hit her son, made him stand up and miss his snack as well as forcing him to learn about “Communist” issues. The alleged incidents happened in a third-year elementary class.

    The teacher denied the claims. Her lawyer said she only read The Diary of Anne Frank in the classroom.

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