November 04, 2007

Italy Expels Romanians

The Romani and Sinti tribal communities, widely known as gypsies, have lived for a thousand years in Europe, primarily Eastern Europe, and with Romania joining the European Union last year, many have migrated to Italy. In fact,

"Nobody imagined having to face 500,000 poor souls that in one year have left Romania for Italy," Interior Minister Giuliano Amato said.
They arrived as vagrants, building makeshift camps on river banks and back alley slums. With them came a cloud of petty, and some not so petty, crimes. Last year, more than 15 percent of foreigners accused of murder, sexual violence and theft were Romanian.

The Italians are understandably irritated. Racial hatred has been growing and a recent attack, blamed on a Romanian, on a naval officer's wife has caused outrage. As a result,

Italian authorities have expelled Romanians they deem dangerous and torn down a Roma and Sinti camp in the wake of the killing of an Italian naval officer's wife. Some fear an increase of racist violence.

Italian officials raised fears of an anti-Romanian "vendetta" on Saturday, Nov. 3, following apparent reprisal attacks the day before over the death of a woman allegedly killed by a Romanian.

"Unfortunately, it's what we fear," Interior Minister Giuliano Amato told La Repubblica daily of Friday's attacks against three Romanians by masked men armed with sticks.

"We must prevent this terrible tiger that is xenophobic hatred, the racist beast, from leaving its cage," Amato said.

Notably, the expulsion of the Romanians can occur with only a judge's order and it's good for three years. No criminal history nor trial is necessary for someone to be sent packing.

So, in a nutshell, a half-million Romanians arrive in Italy and crime spikes. They get blamed and the citizenry gets angry. Random vendettas occur. The Italian government decides to expel the Romanians despite the fact that they are EU citizens who supposedly enjoy unrestricted travel among EU countries.

[Update 11/05/07]

The situation in Italy has prompted Pope Benedict XVI to make a statement.

"I hope that relations between migrant populations and local populations take place in the spirit of that high moral civilization that is the fruit of the spiritual and cultural values of every population and country," the pope told pilgrims in St. Peter's Square.

"May those who deal with security and welcoming programs know how to use instruments aimed at guaranteeing the rights and duties that are at the foundations of every true coexistence and encounter between peoples," Benedict said.

Also, the Romanian government is communicating with the Italians about the issue. I suspect that the situation will get worse before it improves.

By at 11:24 AM | Comments |