Thursday, September 23, 2010


Anti-Roma racism in Italy and France meets resistance
Thursday, September 23, 2010 9:00 AM

Anti-Roma racism in Italy and France meets resistance

Thursday, September 23, 2010

By Jesse Thomson-Burns

Mass actions protest deportations, EU threatens legal action.

French trade unions took to the streets Sept. 4 to protest against the government's policy on immigrants, launching a week of action against pension reforms and other measures, including repatriation of Roma to Eastern Europe.

Demonstrators chanted slogans including “Let's stop repression" and "No to Sarkozy's inhumane policies." (, Sept. 4)

Thousands marched to Paris's city hall, led by Roma. The demonstration numbered 50,000 people according to the organizers. Thousands more rallied in Marseilles, Lyons, Bordeaux and over a hundred other cities.

The recent deportations of Roma in France seems not to be the exception but the rule. “'Sarkozy is merely following the Berlusconi model,’ said Pietro Massarotto, the president of Naga, a Milanese organization that provides assistance to immigrants and Roma. ‘The Italian government invented expulsions of E.U. citizens, in the case they can’t demonstrate they are making a living.’” (New York Times, Sept. 3)

Big capitalist Silvio Berlusconi and present prime minister of Italy, like his counterpart Sarkozy in France, is using anti-immigrant bigotry against the Roma people in an attempt to whip up a chauvinist frenzy to divert the working class from fighting impending cuts to welfare, housing, health care, education and other social services.

The Berlusconi government is using the “law and order” slogan to terrorize and sweep out “illegal” Roma communities but at the same time terrorizing long-time, established and authorized Roma communities.

In Milan, the local government plans to shut down 12 of the city’s authorized communties. A Roma who has lived in one of these communities for nearly two decades, said: “These homes are the fruit of years of work here, and now the city wants to send us away without offering a solution. We have nothing. Where will we go?” (New York Times, Sept. 3)

When Italian municipal officials authorize and allow a community to be built, the Roma are segregated to the outskirts of the city as a way to create an “us versus them” mentality. Also, most of the communities suffer immense inadequacies and not much assistance from the government.

Forced to be nomadic

“There’s a willful misunderstanding about the Roma being nomadic,” Mr. Massarotto told the New York Times. He added that this had allowed governments to bypass the question of integration, a process that would include giving Roma permanent residences and access to schools. “They are forced to be nomadic,” he said, and that leads to “progressive impoverishment.”

The deportations in France don’t seem to be slowing down either. Some 1,000 Roma were deported to Romania and Bulgaria in August, while 11,000 were expelled from France last year, according to the BBC.

The European Union has reacted to the French government's racist deportations of Roma by threatening possible legal actions. Because the French government is specifically targeting Roma, the European Commission is considering taking action based on an EU law barring discriminatory application of the EU's freedom of movement policy.

But the recent moves by the EU to try and end the discriminatory practices of the French government comes on the back of the people's movement in France that has emerged to defend the Roma from xenophobia and anti-immigrant bigotry.

From Italy to France, from the United States to Europe, big capitalists and their lackey politicians are using the racist red herring of anti-immigrant bigotry to stop the potential of a mass united people's struggle whose goals are racial and economic equality. All revolutionary and progressive people must stand against anti-immigrant bigotry and for full rights for immigrants.

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