Rome v. The Roma, Echoes of Mussolini?

Marco Brazzoduro in openDemocracy:

Since the late 1980s, Italy has been affected by an unprecedented influx of migrants. Under successive governments, policies of reception and integration have been inadequate. The result is that a feeling of uneasiness has grown among Italian citizens especially in the outskirts of big cities already suffering from poor public services. The blame for worsening living conditions is often placed on foreigners, who thus come to play the role of the classic scapegoat. Roma are at the bottom of the social scale in this respect, even lower than other categories of migrants. They are (as always since the arrival of their ancestors in Europe from India) the first to be blamed and hated.

There is another, more recent factor in the identification of the Roma as a target of accusation: the way that Italy’s media and political leaders have come to emphasise in their rhetoric the theme of “security”. This is so often tendentious and misleading: for example, official statistics suggest that criminal offences have not increased in the last decade (moreover, Italy has one of the lowest murder-rates in Europe). Thus, in objective terms there is no reason for a campaign which highlights new threats to “security”. 

Italy’s media and political leaders take little notice of such objective factors. Most media outlets draw attention to those crimes committed by foreigners and deliberately stress the nationality of the offender; while politicians campaigning for the election of 13-14 April 2008 election also played frequently on this theme. The victory of the rightwing coalition was in part a result, and has been followed by attempts to implement harsh measures against the Roma: the new government, as well as targeting Roma, is also exploring the possibility – against legal and practical obstacles – of deporting non-Roma European Union citizens (especially Romanians) if they are not able to earn a living in Italy