They’re Gypsies, not Tramps and Thieves.

Gypsy/Roma travellers get a bad press don’t they? In the wake of the Dale Farm affair I’ve been hearing so many comments on social media sites passed off as facts. This worries me. I live and work in an area with a high number of Gypsy/Roma travellers. I have friends who are Gypsies, their children went to school with mine, a Gypsy friend looked after my son when I couldn’t afford childcare so I could work. She did it for 18 months and refused to take a penny from  me. I’d just like to comment on some of the things I’ve heard.

1. Why don’t they work like other people and stop claiming benefits? As any school knows, it’s really difficult to persuade Gypsy/Roma families to claim their benefit entitlement, for example, free school meals. Schools get extra money proportionate to their free school meal numbers so it’s in their interests to make sure eligible families claim. It’s very difficult to persuade Gypsy/Roma families to claim anything they see as a handout.

2. Why call themselves travellers when they don’t travel? “Traveller” is a cultural and historical identity. It’s very difficult to travel in a country where there are an ever-diminishing number of roadside camping spots. Those decorative stone blocks on grass verges are put there to stop travellers stopping over. I have friends who live in a farmhouse. They still identify themselves as Gypsies even though the caravan only comes out to travel to Appleby Horse Fair.

3. Gypsies are dirty. Oh no they’re not. I once caused offence in a gypsy house by perching on the corner of the kitchen table. Luckily, they were friends of mine and explained to the extended family that “I didn’t know it was dirty to sit on tables.” I’ve also heard Gypsy female friends express disgust at other “scruffy Gypsies” who washed and washed-up in the same bowl. Gypsy caravans are usually spotless and full of beautiful china and crystal. Often, the plastic is left on the chairs to make sure the upholstery stays clean.

5. They’re all thieves. Ask any police force and they’ll tell you that the crime rate goes up when Gypsies are passing through. They’ll also tell you that it’s normally the time when the local criminals go on a thieving spree. Our local press has reported on tradesmen who have fly-tipped rubbish near gypsy camps (and were caught on CCTV). It’s easy to scapegoat Gypsies. Of course some Gypsies are thieves and villains. Don’t all cultural groups have those minorities?

There are things about Gypsy/Roma culture that worry me. It worries me that they can’t properly access full health care. Getting dental care when you don’t have a fixed address is very difficult. A lot of older Gypsies are functionally illiterate. How do you get a sight test when you can’t name the letters on the chart? Nobody like to admit they can’t read.

It worries me that it takes years for Gypsy/Roma families to build trust relationships with schools. They’re scared that their children will be abused. I’ve seen a family hand out birthday party invitations to every child in my class except the Gypsy little girl. They “didn’t want Gy**os there.” I reported it as a racist incident because that’s my statutory responsibility but I can’t imagine how it feels to hear those comments.

I’m not saying Gypsy/Roma culture is perfect. It isn’t singing round campfires and jolly horse trading. It’s a hard life and a culturally insular one. I don’t think any of our cultural groups in this country are beyond criticism but I think Gypsy/Roma people come in for a level of racist abuse that people would hesitate to use of other minority ethnic groups. Ideally, I would like people to think before they speak. Is what they’re saying a fair criticism? Would they feel comfortable saying it if they inserted the name of another minority group? If the answer’s yes, then speak out. If you would think twice about saying it about another group don’t say it about Gypsy/Roma travellers.

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About andromedababe

Schoolteacher,shoe lover,garden geek.Likes glitter.Any views on educational practice are my own and are not to be taken as endorsement of any specific educational theories or schemes of work.Note: this is my personal blog - not all my posts relate to education.
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10 Responses to They’re Gypsies, not Tramps and Thieves.

  1. rithompson says:

    I hear you loud and clear. Okay, there are problems in the Gypsy community, but it doesn’t really help that other communities cut them off (this happens across Europe). It just increases the fear and intolerance between communities – and we all know where fear and intolerance lead.

  2. JuliaM says:

    Your blog can be summed up in one sentence: “I’ve had good experiences with gypsies/travellers, so everyone else is lying or mistaken”.

    I did like the one about the crime figures only going through the roof because all the local villains used their presence as a stalking horse, though. That one was a corker!

  3. JIM says:

    I live very near to an annually used traveller site, and the MARKED increase in crime is solely down to them. The locals know this, the police know it, and they know it.

    Whilst this is clearly the other end of the spectrum to what YOU have found, it would be ignorant and blinkered to pretend that there were not genuinely such occurances.

  4. I’ve got to post my own experience and hand on heart it is a truly honest one. In Feb 2010 I got married. My wedding venue had no accommodation so I chose a nearby hotel for my guests and I to stay at. Unbeknown to me, the hotel was hosting a traveller wedding on the same day. When my guests and I arrived back at the hotel at around midnight we were met with shocking scenes of disorder, violence and intimidation including:-

    My train being stood on and a couple of gypsy boys refusing to step off it
    Trying to grab a Polaroid camera that was under the pushchair of my sleeping child
    One of them flicked a lit cigarette at my grandfather
    Fighting amongst themselves
    Pushing one of my disabled relatives out of the way to access the lift
    Smashing in ceilings in corridors
    Plus small things like their disregard for queuing etc
    Trying to break down doors of guests hotel rooms…….I could go on

    Due to the damage the hotel had suffered some of my guests couldn’t gain access to their rooms and 1 family had to get in their car and travel home at 1am .

    In the end my guests and I were locked in the hotel’s golf club for our own safety, given the hotel had promised us an area where we could have a nightcap when we arrived back from our actual wedding venue.

    The only part of their community we didn’t feel intimidated by were the more senior females amongst them.

    As some form of recompense all my guests received a full refund, however, I suspect my wedding will always be remembered and talked about for all the wrong reasons.

  5. I think your blog raises very salient points. The health care issue especially. I hadn’t thought of that. It’s no doubt similar in my country. Education is a big fat key to success for sure… and good manners cost nothing. : )

  6. Hurrah! I agree with you. The Dale Farm commentaries on the News were biased and, at times, cruel. I, too, have known only kindness and respect from the Traveller community. xx

  7. Scyrene says:

    The problem with something like Nicola’s experience is (and this is true of any obvious ‘other’ group) that the (bad) behaviour witnessed is then linked to the group’s identity. If someone sees a bunch of people fighting, or being abusive, or otherwise not acting the way they might be expected, it’s often linked by the witness to a label applied to those people. What I mean is, had they not been gypsies, you might not have made the link. Imagine if the group had been white and non-gypsy – you wouldn’t then say ‘white people tend to be violent/rowdy/troublesome’. But when it’s minority groups, bad behaviour gets associated with their identity. It’s nonsensical – only the very weakest generalisations apply to broad groupings. Individual behaviour is just that.

    • JuliaM says:

      Haven’t you just shot down Andromedababe’s entire post with that?

      Let’s rephrase: “The problem with something like Andromedababe’s experience is (and this is true of any obvious ‘other’ group) that the (good) behaviour witnessed is then linked to the group’s identity.”

      Seems to me you can’t have it both ways – you can’t claim good behaviour is representative of a group either.

  8. JuliaM says:

    I’m guessing any reply to Nicola’s experience (if there is one) will be a variation on the ‘no true Scotsman’ excuse…

  9. sam says:

    am so happy Gypsy’s are not Romanians this is what i wrote after seeing bbd documentary.
    This is for everyone on here. I would like to say a big well done to the BBC for this documentary and all the casting team you have just made lots of children suffer may even die. by exposing the gypsies to more prejudice and anger just have a look of the comments on here that people are making with out looking at the facts first. hope they think about this when you go to sleep in your warm beds and take your children off to school with a belly full of food because if the gypsy children and woman didn’t beg the the whole family would suffer. and has for the traffickers yes this is wrong and they make money out vulnerable gypsies but most of these traffickers are not Gypsies but still the gypsies the are having a much better life begging because if they was in their own Country some of the children get taking away from the family because the government gives gypsy families literally nothing to live on and they would end up in a orphanage even though this video this was a few years ago nothing much has changed. Gypsies in orphanages getting adoption is non-existent by Romania people and this is where they all end up please watch the link before you continue reading https://youtu.be/eb7rvp4yI1w So here are the facts with years of research i’m taking everything into consideration. Romania slaved gypsies for 500 years up to the 1860 the reason being they had a lot of worth and many different skills . In the 500 years of slavery they suffered unimaginably.You can look this up in most library’s. So just after black slavery was abolished Romania was made to free the gypsies but did they . Remember they didn’t have a army to fight for them like the North and south did for the black people they didn’t have any support to make sure even tho they was free they was still made to work for the same slave owners so they wouldn’t die of starvation. So from 1860
    To 1939 nothing had changed for the gypsies they still was made to be slaves but in a alternative way and was still all being subjected to killing rape torture the list goes on. Some of them manage to get away to Germany and as we know Hitler killed and torture and experimented on gypsys children and figers say they could have killed up to 1.5 million of them.
    So from 1860 to 1945 nothing hadn’t changed for the gypsys still outcasted by this time while Americans had the black people was fighting back saying no to racism and great support of the likes of Martin Luther king and a long list of others like him. The Romania gypsies had no one. And a lot of this comes down to the Romania government and most of the Romania people keeping the gypsys depressed. And not allowing them to have education jobs basic health care and casted out to live in the worse conditions imaginable. So this should bring us to 1980s a where the Romania government starts letting gypsys have education and welfare and try to integrate them selves to make they look like a suitable country like the rest of Europe but do they. And the answer to that question is no why because a in Romania you need papers to prove you are a Romania citizen the government knows most of them don’t carry papers so they are refused welfare housing so do you die of starvation and watch the family starve to death or do you go out and beg. but wait no one would give a Romania gypsy any money on the street of course not and some people might give gypsy women money if they are lucky but children you got to be A evil person if you don’t give a child money so they you have it
    if gypsy children they don’t beg their family will live in unbelievable conditions. so on to the 1970 up to 2000 where between that time some had managed to hide their gypsy status and get jobs education they knew if People found out they are gypsies it would be very hard to get a job and live a normal life and if their kids went to school they would be discriminated against by the students and teachers.many of the Gypsies are now working In Romania society teachers doctors and in government but lot of the gypsies will not speak out of fear of losing their jobs and if they did speak out they would probably be back where they started . That Takes us up to 2000 2015
    So Romania government and people give the gypsies about 40 years to get back to civilisation after 560 years of discrimination slavery and their dignity and all rights taken away from them . And in the last 40 years having a very slim chance of education work or Health care and being forced move place to place in some of the worst conditions in the EU some still Live in mud houses with no electricity no water and sanitation. the Romania government and the news puts all the bad publicity on them to hide up their problems. Now Romania Gypsies can travel any where in EU for the last 8 years looking for jobs but no one won’t give a gypsy A job would you after all this negative discrimination and publicity you had seen like this BBC documentary.
    So finally after all the years of suffering they can go and look for a better life but they was wrong again. Gypsies travel to go other countries some looking for work and some looking to beg because that’s all they know and a small amount might even steal so yet again the the news and TV concentrate only on the negative few that probably do this as this is all they know. and if you worried about petty crime just have a look at non gypsy crimes the statistics will shock you to know that the more sinister and evil crimes are done by non- gypsy’s not me say this it is fact look it up for yourself every year in the EU millions of cases but murder rape torture kidnap drug abuse shoplifting by non-gypsies. And all these gypsies only to be sent back to Romania even the ones thats lived in the Eu for years no other race as been made to go home. The Truth is the Romania Government owe billions of pounds to the gypsies for 500 years of slavery
    More Info
    Antiziganism or Anti-Romanyism or Anti-Gypsyism is hostility, prejudice, discrimination or racism directed at the Romani people (commonly known as Gypsies).
    The root zigan (pronounced [ˈtsiɡaːn]) is the basis of the word given to the Roma people in many European languages.[citation needed] History of antiziganism[edit] In the Middle Ages[edit] A French poster depicting a child being kidnapped by nomads In the early 13th-century Byzantine records, the Atsínganoi are mentioned as “wizards… who are inspired satanically and pretend to predict the unknown.”[ 1] By the 16th century, many Romani in Eastern and Central Europe worked as musicians, metal craftsmen, and soldiers.[2] As the Ottoman Turks expanded, they relegated Romani, seen as having “no visible permanent professional affiliation”, to the lowest rung of the social ladder.[3] In Royal Hungary in the 16th century at the time of the Turkish occupation, the Crown developed strong anti-Romani policies, as this people were considered suspect as Turkish spies or as a fifth column. In this atmosphere, they were expelled from many locations and increasingly adopted a nomadic way of life.[4] The first anti-Romani legislation was issued in March of Moravia in 1538, and three years later, Ferdinand I ordered that Romani in his realm be expelled after a series of fires in Prague. Seven years later, the Diet of Augsburg declared that “whosoever kills a Gypsy, will be guilty of no murder.”[ 5] In 1556, the government stepped in to “forbid the drowning of Romani women and children.”[ 6] In England, the Egyptians Act 1530 banned Romani from entering the country and required those living in the country to leave within 16 days. Failure to do so could result in confiscation of property, imprisonment and deportation. The act was amended with the Egyptians Act 1554, which directed that they abandon their “naughty, idle and ungodly life and company” and adopt a settled lifestyle. For those who failed to adhere to a sedentary existence, the Privy council interpreted the act to permit execution of non-complying Romani ‘as a warning to others’.[7] 18th century[edit] In 1710, Joseph I, Holy Roman Emperor, issued an edict against the Romani, ordering “that all adult males were to be hanged without trial, whereas women and young males were to be flogged and banished forever.” In addition, in the kingdom of Bohemia, romani men were to have their right ears cut off; in the March of Moravia, the left ear was to be cut off. In other parts of Austria, they would be branded on the back with a branding iron, representing the gallows.These mutilations enabled authorities to identify the individuals as Romani on their second arrest. The edict encouraged local officials to hunt down Romani in their areas by levying a fine of 100 Reichsthaler for those failing to do so. Anyone who helped Romani was to be punished by doing a half-year’s forced labor. The result was “mass killings” of Romani. In 1721, Charles VI amended the decree to include the execution of adult female Romani, while children were “to be put in hospitals for education.”[ 8] In 1774, Maria Theresa of Austria issued an edict forbidding marriages between Romani. When a Romani woman married a non-Romani, she had to produce proof of “industrious household service and familiarity with Catholic tenets”, a male Rom “had to prove ability to support a wife and children”, and “Gypsy children over the age of five were to be taken away and brought up in non-Romani families.”[ 9] In 2007 the Romanian government established a panel to study the 18th and 19th-century practice of Romani slavery by Princes, local landowners, and monasteries. Slavery of Romani was outlawed in the Romanian Principalities, Moldavia and Wallachia, around 1856.[10] 19th century[edit] Governments regularly cited petty theft committed by Romani as justification for regulating and persecuting them. In 1899, the Nachrichtendienst in Bezug auf die Zigeuner (“Intelligence Service Regarding the Gypsies”) was set up in Munich under the direction of Alfred Dillmann, and catalogued data on all Romani individuals throughout the German-speaking lands. It did not officially close down until 1970. The results were published in 1905 in Dillmann’s Zigeuner-Buch,[11] which was used in the following years as justification for the Porajmos. It described the Romani people as a “plague” and a “menace”, but almost exclusively characterized “Gypsy crime” as trespassing and the theft of food.[11] Porajmos[edit] German Nazi deportation of Sinti and Roma from Asperg, 1940 Main article: Porajmos Persecution of Romani people reached a peak during World War II in the Porajmos, the Nazi genocide of Romanis during the Holocaust. Because the Romani communities of Eastern Europe were less organized than the Jewish communities, it is more difficult to assess the actual number of victims though the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Research Institute in Washington puts the number of Romani lives lost by 1945 at between 500,000 and 1.5million. Former ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill has argued that the Romani population suffered proportionally more genocide than the Jewish population of Europe and that their plight has largely been sidelined by scholars and the media.[12] According to Nazi ideology the Romani were at the bottom of the racial scale along with Jews and blacks as non-Aryans.[13] After the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 became intact, Romani people were stripped of their citizenship and forbidden to have sexual relations and marriages with Aryans.
    The extermination of Romanis by the German Nazi authorities in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was so thorough that the Bohemian Romani language became an extinct language. The policy of the Nazis varied across countries they conquered: they killed almost all the Romanis in the Baltic countries, yet they did not attempt to eliminate the Romanis in Denmark or Greece.
    Romanis were also persecuted by the fascist Ustaše in Croatia, who were allied with the Nazis. As a result, there were hardly any Romanis left in Croatia after the war.
    Contemporary antiziganism[edit] According to a report issued by Amnesty International in 2011, “…systematic discrimination is taking place against up to 10 million Roma across Europe. The organization has documented the failures of governments across the continent to live up to their obligations”.[14] Antiziganism has continued well into the 2000s, particularly in Slovakia,[15] Hungary,[16] Slovenia[17] and Kosovo.[18] In Bulgaria, Professor Ognian Saparev has written articles stating that ‘Gypsies’ are culturally inclined towards theft and use their minority status to ‘blackmail’ the majority.[19] European Union officials censured both the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 2007 for forcibly segregating Romani children from normal schools.[20] The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg has been an outspoken critic of Antiziganism, both in reports and periodic Viewpoints. In August 2008, Hammarberg noted that “today’s rhetoric against the Roma is very similar to the one used by Nazis and fascists before the mass killings started in the thirties and forties. Once more, it is argued that the Roma are a threat to safety and public health. No distinction is made between a few criminals and the overwhelming majority of the Roma population. This is shameful and dangerous.”[21] According to the latest Human Rights First Hate Crime Survey, Romanis routinely suffer assaults in city streets and other public places as they travel to and from homes and markets.In a number of serious cases of violence against Romani people, attackers have also sought out whole families in their homes, or whole communities in settlements predominantly housing Romanis. These widespread patterns of violence are sometimes directed both at causing immediate harm to Romanis, without distinction between adults, the elderly, and small children and physically eradicating the presence of Romani people in towns and cities in several European countries.[22] North America[edit] Canada[edit] When Romani refugees were allowed into Canada in 1997, a protest was staged by 25 people, including neo-Nazis, in front of the motel where the refugees were staying. The protesters held signs that included, “Honk if you hate Gypsies,” “Canada is not a Trash Can,” and “G.S.T. – Gypsies Suck Tax.” (The last is a reference to Canada’s Goods and Services Tax, also known as GST.) The protesters were charged with promoting hatred, and the case, called R. v. Krymowski, reached the Supreme Court of Canada in 2005.[23] On 5 September 2012, prominent Canadian conservative commentator Ezra Levant broadcast a commentary “The Jew vs. the Gypsies” on The Source in which he accused the Romani people of being a group of criminals saying: “These are gypsies, a culture synonymous with swindlers. The phrase gypsy and cheater have been so interchangeable historically that the word has entered the English language as a verb: he gypped me. Well the gypsies have gypped us. Too many have come here as false refugees. And they come here to gyp us again and rob us blind as they have done in Europe for centuries … They’re gypsies. And one of the central characteristics of that culture is that their chief economy is theft and begging.”[ 24] United States[edit] Americans are largely unaware of the stigma that surrounds Romani ancestry elsewhere in the world. Because the Roma population in the United States has assimilated quickly and Roma people are not often portrayed in US popular culture, the term “Gypsy” is typically associated with a trade or lifestyle instead of the Romani ethnic group. While many Americans regard ethnic costume offensive (e.g. blackface), many Americans continue to dress as gypsy characters for Halloween or other events. Additionally, some small businesses, particularly those in the fortune-telling and psychic reading industry, [25] use the term “Gypsy” to describe themselves or their enterprise, despite having no ties to the Roma people.
    While some scholars argue that appropriation of the Roma identity in the United States is explained by misperception and ignorance rather than anti-ziganism, [26] Romani advocacy groups themselves decry the practice.[27] Europe[edit] European Union[edit] The practice of placing Romani students in segregated schools or classes remains widespread in countries across Europe.[28] Many Romani children have been channeled into all-Romani schools that offer inferior quality education and are sometimes in poor physical condition, or into segregated all-Romani or predominantly Romani classes within mixed schools.[29] Many Romani children are sent to classes for pupils with learning disabilities. They are also sent to so-called “delinquent schools”, where a variety of human rights abuses take place.[29] Romani in European population centers are often accused of crimes such as pickpocketing. In 2009 a documentary by the BBC called Gypsy child thieves uncovered how Gypsy children were kidnapped and abused by Gypsy gangs from Romania. The children were often held locked in sheds during the nights and sent to steal during the days. In Milan, Italy, it is estimated that a single Gypsy child was able to steal as much as €12, 000 in a month; there were as many as 50 of such abused Gypsy children operating in the city. Meanwhile, the Romani bosses of these gangs were building glossy villas back in Romania. The film went on to describe the link between poverty, discrimination, crime and exploitation.[30] A United Nations study[31] found that Romanis in European countries are arrested for robbery at a much higher rate than other groups. Amnesty International[32] and Romanis groups such as the Union Romani blame widespread police and government racism and persecution.[33] In July 2008, a Business Week feature found the region’s Romani population to be a “missed economic opportunity.”[ 34] Hundreds of people from Ostravice, in the Beskydy mountains in Czech Republic, signed a petition against a plan to move Romani families from Ostrava city to their home town, fearing the Romani invasion as well as their schools not being able to cope with the influx of Romani children.[35] In 2009, the UN’s anti-racism panel charged that “Gypsies suffer widespread racism in European Union.” that ‘Racially motivated crime is an everyday experience’ for Roma people, says EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency.’.[36] The EU has launched a program entitled Decade of Roma Inclusion to combat this and other problems.[37] Bulgaria[edit] In 2011 in Bulgaria, widespread anti-Roma protests occurred in response to the murder of Angel Petrov on the orders of Kiril Rashkov, a Roma leader in the village of Katunitsa. In the subsequent trial, the killer, Simeon Yosifov, was sentenced to 17 years in jail.[38] As of May 2012, an appeal was under way.
    Czech Republic[edit] Sign banning entry of itinerant Gypsies and rovers, 1920s Further information: Romani people in the Czech Republic Roma make up 2–3% of population in the Czech Republic. According to Říčan (1998), Roma make up more than 60% of Czech prisoners and about 20–30% earn their livelihood in illegal ways, such as procuring prostitution, trafficking and other property crimes.[39] Roma are thus more than 20 times overrepresented in Czech prisons than their population share would suggest.
    According to 2010 survey, 83% of Czechs consider Roma asocial and 45% of Czechs would like to expel them from the Czech Republic.[40] A 2011 poll, which followed after a number of brutal attacks by Romani perpetrators against majority population victims, revealed that 44% of Czechs are afraid of Roma people.[41] The majority of the Czech people do not want to have Romanis as neighbours (almost 90%, more than any other group[42]) seeing them as thieves and social parasites. In spite of long waiting time for a child adoption, Romani children from orphanages are almost never adopted by Czech couples.[43] After the Velvet Revolution in 1989 the jobs traditionally employing Romanis either disappeared or were taken over by immigrant workers.[citation needed] Among highly publicized cases was the Vítkov arson attack of 2009, in which four right-wing extremists seriously injured a three-year-old Romani girl. The public responded by donating money as well as presents to the family, who were able to buy a new house from the donations, while the perpetrators were sentenced to 18 and 22 years in prison.
    The Romanis are at the centre of the agenda of far-right groups in the Czech Republic, which are spreading antiziganism especially in connection with criminal acts rendered by Romani perpetrators on majority population victims. The groups focusing especially on cases of rapes and murders, such as nearly killing and rape of a 13-year-old boy in Duchcov or the rape of a 17-year-old girl in church in Nový Bydžov, [44] or brutal murder of an 81-year-old woman in Olešnice by gang of Romani children, who were sent to commit the crime by father of one of them in order to exploit lower ranges of punishment available for minors.[45] Far-right groups often hold demonstrations in places, where majority population suffers from high crime rates attributed to Romani perpetrators.[46][47][48] Far-right groups also organize “crime patrols” in such places.[49][50] (these are however no militia style patrols, they rather rely on requesting police presence). Far-right is also promoting repatriation of Roma to India on voluntary basis, arguing that the Czech state should offer paying all the costs, including establishment of their new livelihood there.[51][52] There are some Romani groups calling for a similar plan, however instead of India they are requesting relocation to Germany, France, United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden, Finland or Belgium, while in their view the Czech Republic should reimburse costs.[53] In January 2010, Amnesty International launched a report titled Injustice Renamed: Discrimination in Education of Roma persists in the Czech Republic.[54] According to the BBC, it was Amnesty’s view that while cosmetic changes had been introduced by the authorities, little genuine improvement in addressing discrimination against Romani children has occurred over recent years.[55] Denmark[edit] In Denmark, there was much controversy when the city of Helsingør decided to put all Romani students in special classes in its public schools. The classes were later abandoned after it was determined that they were discriminatory and the Romanis were put back in regular classes.[56] France[edit] Further information: French Romani repatriation France has come under criticism for its treatment of Roma. In the summer of 2010 French authorities demolished at least 51 illegal Roma camps and began the process of repatriating their residents to their countries of origin.[57] The French government has been accused of perpetrating these actions to pursue its political agenda.[58] In July 2013 Jean-Marie Le Pen, a very controversial far-right politician and founder of the Front national, had a lawsuit filed against him by the European Roma and Travellers Forum, SOS Racisme and the French Union of Travellers Association after he publicly called France’s Roma population “smelly” and “rash-inducing”, claiming his comments violated French law on inciting racial hatred.[59] Germany[edit] After 2005 Germany deported some 50, 000 people, mainly Romanis, to Kosovo.These were asylum seekers who fled the country during the Kosovo War. The people were deported after living more than 10 years in Germany. The deportations were highly controversial: many were children, who obtained education in Germany, spoke German as their primary language and considered themselves to be Germans.[60] Hungary[edit] Hungary has seen escalating violence against the Romani people. On 23 February 2009, a Romani man and his five-year-old son were shot dead in Tatárszentgyörgy village southeast of Budapest as they were fleeing their burning house which was set alight by a petrol bomb. The dead man’s two other children suffered serious burns. Suspects were arrested and are currently on trial.[61] In 2012, Viktória Mohácsi, 2004–2009 Hungarian Member of European Parliament of Romani ethnicity, asked for asylum in Canada after previously requesting police protection at home due to serious threats from hate groups she was receiving.[62][63] Ireland[edit] In 2008 Marioara Rostas, a teenage Roma girl was abducted in Dublin city centre, reportedly by member(s) of a notorious local crime family. Over the next week she was raped multiple times, abused, including having her teeth removed, and shot dead.[64][65] Her body was discovered in the Wicklow Mountains four years later in a crime that shocked the Irish Garda Representative Association (GRA) on indifference to the crime within Irish society and why had there been no “outpourings of disgust that such depravity could be committed here”.[66] The lack of public outcry in Ireland led journalist Cormac O’Keeffe of the Irish Examiner to write: “Kidnapped, gang raped, tortured, shot and dumped, but no one cares” in March 2012.[64] There were expressions of anti-Roma sentiment made in the comments section of the newspaper’s web site[67] and several follow-up article commenting on the country’s attitude to Romanian Roma immigration.[67][68] Subsequent articles entitled “We must fight Irish prejudice” highlighting an undercurrent of racism in Ireland.[68] The Integration Centre in Dublin stated that Roma people were: “routinely demonized and dehumanised.”[ 66] It is likely that this dehumanization was a factor in the rape, torture and murder of the girl. Is it also likely that this dehumanization was a factor in the indifference that greeted the news and detail of her death.”[ 66] The Irish Travellers’ Movement said they would send out a “strong message that no one deserves to die so young and in such a horrific violent way”.Members of Pavee Point, an indigenous Irish Traveller organization, Roma and members of the settled community led a small candle-lit vigil with the media and Garda members in attendance in February 2012, close to the last reported sighting of the Roma teenager.[69] Alan Wilson (33) was charged with her murder on 5 April 2012.[70] Italy[edit] See also: Anti-Roma sentiment in Italy In 2007 and 2008, following the brutal rape and subsequent murder of a woman in Rome at the hands of a young man from a local Romani encampment, [71] the Italian government started a crackdown on illegal Roma and Sinti campsites in the country.
    In May 2008 Romani camps in Naples were attacked and set on fire by local residents.[72] In July 2008, a high court in Italy overthrew the conviction of defendants who had publicly demanded the expulsion of Romanis from Verona in 2001 and reportedly ruled that “it is acceptable to discriminate against Roma on the grounds that they are thieves.”[ 73] One of those freed was Flavio Tosi, Verona’s mayor and an official of the anti-immigrant Lega Nord.[73] The decision came during a “nationwide clampdown” on Romanis by Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. The previous week, Berlusconi’s interior minister Roberto Maroni declared that all Romanis in Italy, including children, would be fingerprinted.[73] Opposition party member, Gianclaudio Bressa, responded by insisting that these measures “increasingly resemble those of an authoritarian regime”.[73] In response to the fingerprinting plan, three United Nations experts testified that “by exclusively targeting the Roma minority, this proposal can be unambiguously classified as discriminatory.”[74] The European Parliament denounced the plan as “a clear act of racial discrimination” and asked the Italian government not to continue.[74] Romani woman demonstrating in Bucharest, Romania against an Antiziganistic remark of the Romanian president Traian Băsescu against a journalist who bothered him in May 2007.[75] The text on the shirt is Ţigancă împuţită! (“Stinking gypsy!”) Romania[edit] Further information: Romani people in Romania Roma make up 3.3% of population in Romania. Prejudice against Romanis is common amongst the Romanians, who characterize the Gypsies as being thieves, dirty, and lazy.[76] A 2000 EU report about Romani said that in Romania… the continued high levels of discrimination are a serious concern.. and progress has been limited to programmes aimed at improving access to education.[ 77] A survey of the Pro Democraţia association in Romania revealed that 94% of the questioned persons believe that the Romanian citizenship should be revoked to the ethnic Romani who commit crimes abroad.[78] In 2009-2010, a media campaign followed by a parliamentarian initiative asked the Romanian Parliament to accept a proposal to change back the official name of country’s Roma (adopted in 2000) to Țigan (Gypsy), the traditional and colloquial Romanian name for Romani, in order to avoid the possible confusion among the international community between the words Roma – which refers to the Romani ethnic minority – and Romania.[79] The Romanian government supported the move on the grounds that many countries in the European Union use a variation of the word Țigan to refer to their Gypsy populations. The Romanian upper house, Senate, rejected the proposal.[80][81] Violence against Gypsies has also been common in Romania, especially police brutality, such cases of excessive force being not adequately investigated or sanctioned.[76] Several anti-Romani riots occurred in the last decades, notable of which being the Hădăreni riots of 1993, in which a mob of Romanians and Hungarians, in response to the killing of a Romanian by a Gypsy, burnt down 13 houses belonging to the Gypsies, lynched three Gypsies, and forced 130 people to flee the village.[82] In Baia Mare, Mayor Cătălin Cherecheș announced the building of a 3-metre high, 100-metre long concrete wall to divide the buildings in which the Gypsy community lives from the rest of the city, arguing that this would bring “order and discipline” into the area.[83] The manele, their modern music style, was prohibited in some cities of Romania in public transport[84] and taxis, [85][86] that action being justified by bus and taxi companies as being for passengers’ comfort and a neutral ambience, acceptable for all passengers. However, those actions had been characterised by Speranta Radulescu, a professor of ethno-musicology at the Bucharest Conservatory, as “a defect of Romanian society”.[87] There were also a few criticisms of Professor Dr. Ioan Bradu Iamandescu’s experimental study, which linked the listening of “manele” to an increased level of aggressiveness and low self-control and suggested a correlation between preference for that music style and low cognitive skills.[88][89] Slovakia[edit] Three Slovakian Romani women have come before the European Court of Human Rights on grounds of having been forcefully sterilised in Slovakian hospitals.The sterilisations were performed by tubal ligation, after the women gave birth by Caesarean section. The court awarded two of the women costs and damages, while the third case was dismissed due to the woman’s death.[90] A report by the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Centre for Civil and Human Rights has compiled more than 100 cases of Roma women in Slovakia who have been sterilised without their informed consent.[91] United Kingdom[edit] In 2008 the media reported that Gypsies experience a higher degree of racism than any other group in the UK, including asylum-seekers. A Mori poll indicated that a third of UK residents admitted openly to being prejudiced against Gypsies.[92] However, thousands of retrospective planning permissions are granted in Britain in cases involving non-Romani applicants each year, and that statistics showed that 90% of planning applications by Romanis and travellers were initially refused by local councils, compared with a national average of 20% for other applicants, disproving claims of preferential treatment favouring Romanis.[93] Travellers argued that the root of the problem was that many traditional stopping-places had been barricaded off and that legislation passed by the previous Conservative government had effectively criminalised their community. For example, by removing local authorities’ responsibility to provide sites, which leaves the travellers with no option but to purchase unregistered new sites themselves.[94] In August 2012, Slovakian television network TV JOJ ran a report about cases of Romani immigrant families with Slovakian or Czech citizenship, whose children were forcibly taken away by the British authorities. This has sparked Romani protests in towns such as Nottingham. The authorities refused to explain the reasons for their actions to the Slovak reporters. One of the mothers alleged that she was only allowed visitation with her newborn baby in an empty room; as there was no furniture, she was forced to change her baby’s diapers on the floor, which was reflected negatively in a social workers’ report. Then when she would not change the diapers on a subsequent occasion following this experience, failure to change them was reflected negatively in the report as well. TV JOJ also alleged that in another case a biological mother suffered a nervous breakdown due to her children being taken away, this was seen as proof that she was not able to take care for them and they were then put up for adoption.[95] The problem was further escalated after reports that some Slovak children would be put up for adoption either in the UK or elsewhere, especially after a British court rejected the request of a grandmother, living in Slovakia, for legal custody of her grandchildren.[96] This dispute has sparked protests in front of the British embassy in Bratislava, with protesters holding signs such as “Britain – Thief of Children” and “Stop Legal Kidnappers”.[97] According to Slovak media, over 30 Romani children were taken from their parents in Britain. The Slovak government voiced its “serious concern” over the readiness of British authorities to remove children from their “biological parents” for “no sound reason” and further stated its readiness to challenge the policy in front of the European Court of Human Rights.[98] England[edit] In 2002 Conservative Party politician, and Member of Parliament (MP) for Bracknell Andrew MacKay stated in a House of Commons debate on unauthorised encampments of Gypsies and other Travelling groups in the UK that “They [Gypsies and Travellers] are scum, and I use the word advisedly. People who do what these people have done do not deserve the same human rights as my decent constituents going about their ordinary lives”.[99][100] MacKay subsequently left politics in 2010.[101] In 2005 Doncaster Borough Council discussed in chamber a Review of Gypsy and Traveller Needs[102] and concluded that Gypsies and Irish Travellers are among the most vulnerable and marginalised ethnic minority groups in Britain.[103][104] A Gypsy and Traveller support centre in Leeds, West Yorkshire, was vandalised in April 2011 in what the police suspect was a hate-crime. The fire caused substantial damage to a centre that is used as a base for the support and education of gypsies and travellers in the community.[105] Scotland[edit] The Equal Opportunities Committee of the Scottish Parliament in 2001[106] and in 2009[107] confirmed that widespread marginalisation and discrimination persists in Scottish society against gypsy and traveller groups. A 2009 survey conducted by the Scottish Government also concludes that Scottish gypsy and travellers had been largely ignored in official policies. A similar survey in 2006 found discriminatory attitudes in Scotland towards gypsies and travellers, [108] and showed 37 per cent of those questioned would be unhappy if a relative married a gypsy or traveller. While 48 per cent found it unacceptable if a member of the gypsy or traveller minorities became primary school teachers.[108] A report by the University of the West of Scotland found that both the Scottish and UK governments had failed to safeguard the rights of the Roma as a recognized ethnic group and did not raise awareness of Roma rights within the UK.[109] Additionally, an Amnesty International report published in 2012 stated that Gypsy Traveller groups in Scotland routinely suffer widespread discrimination in society, [110] as well as a disproportionate level of scrutiny in the media.[111][112] Over a four-month period as a sample 48 per cent of articles showed Gypsy Travellers in a negative light, while 25–28 per cent of articles were favourable, or of a neutral viewpoint.[110] Amnesty recommended journalists adhere to ethical codes of conduct when reporting on Gypsy Traveller populations in Scotland, as these groups face fundamental human rights concerns – particularly with regards to health, education, housing, family life and culture.[110] To tackle the widespread prejudices and needs of Gypsy/Traveller minorities, in 2011 the Scottish Government set up a working party to consider how best to improve community relations between Gypsies/Travellers and Scottish society.[113] Including young Gypsies/Travellers to engage in an on-line positive messages campaign, contain factually correct information on their communities.[114] Wales[edit] In 2007 a study by the newly formed Equality for Human Rights Commission found that negative attitudes and prejudice persists against Gypsy/Traveller communities in Wales.[115] Results showed that 38 per cent of those questioned would not accept a long-term relationship with, or would be unhappy if a close relative married or formed a relationship with, a Gypsy Traveller. Furthermore, only 37 per cent found it acceptable if a member of the Gypsy Traveller minorities became primary school teachers, the lowest score of any group.[115] An advertising campaign to tackle prejudice in Wales was launched by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) in 2008.[116] Northern Ireland[edit] In June 2009, having had their windows broken and deaths threats made against them, twenty Romanian Romani families were forced from their homes in Lisburn Road, Belfast, in Northern Ireland. Up to 115 people, including women and children, were forced to seek refuge in a local church hall after being attacked. They were later moved by the authorities to a safer location.[117] An anti-racist rally in the city on 15 June to support Romani rights was attacked by youths chanting neo-Nazi slogans. The attacks were condemned by Amnesty International[118] and political leaders from both the Unionist and Nationalist traditions in Northern Ireland.[119][120] Following the arrest of three local youths in relation to the attacks, the church where the Romanis had been given shelter was badly vandalised. Using ’emergency funds’, Northern Ireland authorities assisted most of the victims to return to Romania.[121][122] Non-EU countries[edit] Kosovo[edit] From the end of the Kosovo War in June 1999, about 80% of Kosovo’s Romanis were expelled, amounting to approximately 100,000 expellees.[123]:82 For the 1999–2006 period, the European Roma Rights Centre documented numerous crimes perpetrated by Kosovo’s ethnic Albanians with the purpose to purge the region of its Romani population along with other non-Albanian ethnic communities. These crimes included murder, abduction and illegal detention, torture, rape, arson, confiscation of houses and other property, and forced labour. Whole Romani settlements were burned to the ground by Albanians.[123]:82 Romanis remaining in Kosovo are reported to be systematically denied fundamental human rights. They “live in a state of pervasive fear”,[123]:83 being routinely intimidated, verbally harassed, and periodically attacked on racist grounds by Albanians.[123]:83 The Romani community of Kosovo is regarded to be for the most part annihilated.[123]:93 At UN internally displaced persons’ camps in Kosovo for Romanis, the refugees were exposed to lead poisoning.[124] Norway[edit] In Norway, many Romani people were forcibly sterilized by the state until 1977.[125][126] Antiziganism in Norway flared up in July 2012 when roughly 200 Romani people settled outside Sofienberg church in Oslo and were later relocated to a building site at Årvoll, in northern Oslo. The group was subjected to hate crimes in the form of stone throwing and fireworks being aimed at, and fired into their camp. They, and Norwegians trying to assist them in their situation, also received death threats.[127] Siv Jensen, the leader of the right-wing Progress Party, also advocated the expulsion of the Romani people resident in Oslo.[128] Switzerland[edit] A Swiss right-wing magazine Weltwoche, published a photograph of a gun-wielding Roma child on its cover in 2012 with the title “The Roma are coming: Plundering in Switzerland”.They claimed in a series of articles of a growing trend in the country of “criminal tourism for which eastern European Roma clans are responsible” with professional gangs specializing in burglary, thefts, organized begging and street prostitution.[129] The magazine immediately came under criticism with its links to the right-wing populist People’s Party (SVP), as being deliberately provocative and encouraged racist stereotyping by linking ethnic origin and criminality.[129] Switzerland’s Federal Commission against Racism is considering legal action after complaints in Switzerland, Austria and Germany that the cover breached anti-racism laws.
    The Berlin newspaper Tagesspiegel investigated the origins of the photograph taken in the slums of Gjakova, Kosovo, where Roma communities were displaced during the Kosovo War to hovels built on a toxic landfill.[130] The Italian photographer Livio Mancini, denounced the abuse of his photograph which was originally taken to demonstrate the plight of Roma families in Europe.[131] Environmental struggles[edit] This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (December 2012) Environmental issues caused by Cold War-era industrial development have disproportionately impacted upon the Roma, particularly in Eastern Europe. Due to the traditional nomadic lifestyle of the Roma, the people most often settle on the outskirts of towns and cities, where amenities, employment and educational opportunities are often inaccessible. As of 1993, Hungary has been identified as one country where this issue exists: “While the economic restructuring of a command economy into a western style market economy created hardships for most Hungarians, with the national unemployment rate heading toward 14 percent and per capita real income falling, the burdens imposed on Romanis are disproportionately great.”[132] Panel buildings (panelák) in Chanov ghetto near Most, Czech Republic were built in the 1970s for a high-income clientele, authorities introduced a model plan, whereby Roma were relocated to these buildings, from poorer areas, to live among Czech neighbours. However, with the rising proportion of Roma moving in, the Czech clients gradually moved out in a kind of white flight, eventually leaving a district in which the vast majority of residents were Roma.[133] A poll in 2007 marked the district as the worst place in the Ústí nad Labem Region.[133] Buildings were eventually stripped of any valuable materials and torn down. The removal of materials was blamed on the Roma who had last inhabited the building.[134] Despite a total rental debt in excess of €3.5 million, all of the tenants in the remaining buildings continue to be provided with water and electricity, [135] unlike the situation in many other European countries.
    Roma settlement Luník IX near Košice, Slovakia.
    When newly built in the 1980s, some flats in this settlement were assigned to Roma who had relocated from poverty-stricken locations in a government effort to integrate the Roma population-other flats were assigned to families of military and law-enforcement personnel. However, the military and police families gradually moved out of the residences and the living conditions for the Roma population deteriorated. Ongoing failures to pay bills led to the disconnection of the water supply and an emergency plan was eventually created to provide running water for two hours per day to mitigate against the bill payment issue. Similarly to Chanov, some of these buildings were stripped of their materials and were eventually torn down-again, the Roma residents were identified as the culprits of the material theft.[136][137][138][139] The various legal hindrances to their traditional nomadic lifestyle have forced many travelling Roma into unsafe areas, such as ex-industrial areas, former landfills or other waste areas where pollutants have affected rivers, streams or groundwater. Consequently, Roma are often unable to access clean water or sanitation facilities, rendering the Roma people more vulnerable to health problems, such as diseases. Based in Belgium, the Health & Environment Alliance has included a statement in relation to the Roma on one of its pamphlets: “Denied environmental benefits such as water, sewage treatment facilities, sanitation and access to natural resources, and suffer from exposure to environmental hazards due to their proximity to hazardous waste sites, incinerators, factories, and other sources of pollution.”[140] Since the fall of communism and privatization of formerly state owned water-supply companies in many areas of central and eastern Europe, the provision of decent running water to illegal buildings Roma often occupy, became a particular issue, as the new international owners of the water-supply companies are unwilling to make contracts with Roma population and “water-borne diseases, such as diarrhoea and dysentery” became “an almost constant feature of daily life, especially for children”.According to a study by the United Nations Development Program, the percentage of Roma with access to running water and sewage treatment within Romania and the Czech Republic is well below the average in those countries. Consequently, a proliferation of skin diseases among these populations, due to the low quality of housing standards, including scabies, pediculosis, pyodermatitis, mycosis and askaridosis, has occurred; respiratory health problems also affect the majority of the inhabitants of these areas, in addition to increasing rates of hepatitis and tuberculosis.[citation needed] Additionally, the permanent settlement of Roma in residential areas is often met with either hostility by non-Roma or the exodus of non-Roma, similar to the “white flight” phenomenon in the United States.[141] Moreover, local councils have issued bans against Roma and Roma people are frequently evicted.[citation needed] Antiziganism in popular culture[edit] Sacha Baron Cohen’s 2006 mockumentary Borat satirizes antiziganist beliefs in Eastern Europe and former Soviet States. Baron Cohen plays the eponymous Borat Sagdiyev, a backward and buffoonish journalist who displays extreme intolerance and hostility towards Jews, homosexuals, and Roma. When the character describes his fictitious home town, Baron Cohen, who is himself Jewish, explains that “they have a tall fence for keeping out Gypsies and Jews”; ironically, the scene featuring this backwards and intolerant town was filmed in Glod, a Roma village in central Romania. Though some have criticized the film for going too far, Borat is still one of the most visible statements against antiziganism in popular culture.
    The Adventures of Tintin comic The Castafiore Emerald criticises antiziganism. After Captain Haddock invites a group of Roma to move onto his property, they are falsely accused of stealing Bianca Castafiore’s priceless emerald. Tintin objects to other characters who express their suspicion and uncovers the real culprit to have been a magpie.
    In several adaptations of Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Claude Frollo is portrayed as having a strong, genocidal hatred of gypsies, although this characteristic is not so evident in the original novel.
    News
    he world was shocked by Italian sunbathers ignoring dead gipsy girls… But now Italy is showing a chilling interest in Roma children
    By SUE REID FOR THE MAIL ON SUNDAY
    UPDATED: 02:13, 26 July 2008

    View comments
    It was the week’s most shocking picture: gipsy girls dead on a beach ignored by sunbathers… Now there is more chilling evidence of how Italy’s brutal crackdown on the Roma has sick echoes of the country’s fascist past.
    She looks like any teenager the world over. Wearing a denim skirt, pink designer T-shirt, and with long hair tied back from her face, Samantha is a child who would make any parent proud.
    Yet just a few days ago, this bubbly 14-year-old found herself taking part in an excercise that would seem unthinkable in a modern, civilised European country.
    She was ordered to line up at the local community hall near her home in Naples, Italy, and dab her right forefinger in black ink before placing it on a government census form.

    The bodies of Cristina, 12, and Viola, 11, were left on the sand after they drowned in rough seas as holidaymakers carry on sunbathing nearby
    Samantha was photographed and given an identity code – F43 – as officials asked for her full name, address, age, religion and where she was born.
    Most controversially of all, she was told to state her ethnic background.
    Every detail, including the fact that her parents are immigrant Roma gipsies from Serbia, was catalogued and put on a national computer system.
    She was mortified. Her eyes bright with anger, Samantha said she felt like a villain in the only country she has ever known.
    ‘That same day, the Italian kids started calling me “gyppo” in the streets.
    They pointed at me and laughed. I felt like shouting back and saying: ‘I am Italian just like you. I was born here too.
    ‘But I didn’t dare, in case I started a riot.’
    Members of the Red Cross carry out health checks on a Roma woman and her baby in one of the illegal camps on the outskirts of Rome
    Samantha was taking part in a compulsory new census of Italy’s 160,000 Roma people, promised by the inflammatory Right-wing premier Silvio Berlusconi in the run-up to his successful election this spring.
    Anyone with a sense of the past would be forgiven for a strong feeling of foreboding about what is happening.
    Thousands of migrants, many of them Roma gipsies from the old communist bloc and racially troubled Balkans, have poured into the country since the dismantling of border controls across a greatly expanded European Union in 2004.
    The huge diaspora was political good fortune for 73-year-old Berlusconi.
    In a country where fascism under dictator Benito Mussolini thrived until the end of World War II, Berlusconi warned of a ‘Roma emergency’ in big cities and produced a dossier of dubious figures alleging foreigners were involved in half of Italy’s attempted murders, muggings and robberies.
    The interior minister went further. Roberto Maroni, a leader of the anti-immigrant Northern League aligned with Berlusconi’s nationalist Forza Italia party, claimed the controversial census and fingerprinting was essential to discover ‘who is entitled to be here and who is not’.
    It would stop anonymous armies of Roma children being sent out begging or stealing by their families, 60 per cent of whom have no identity papers or passports, he claimed.
    Gipsy people with the right to stay would be re-housed in ‘decent conditions rather than with rats’. The remainder, Maroni made clear, could expect deportation.

    news
    Members of the Red Cross carry out health checks on a Roma woman and her baby in one of the illegal camps on the outskirts of Rome
    Samantha was taking part in a compulsory new census of Italy’s 160,000 Roma people, promised by the inflammatory Right-wing premier Silvio Berlusconi in the run-up to his successful election this spring.
    Anyone with a sense of the past would be forgiven for a strong feeling of foreboding about what is happening.
    Thousands of migrants, many of them Roma gipsies from the old communist bloc and racially troubled Balkans, have poured into the country since the dismantling of border controls across a greatly expanded European Union in 2004.
    The huge diaspora was political good fortune for 73-year-old Berlusconi.
    In a country where fascism under dictator Benito Mussolini thrived until the end of World War II, Berlusconi warned of a ‘Roma emergency’ in big cities and produced a dossier of dubious figures alleging foreigners were involved in half of Italy’s attempted murders, muggings and robberies.
    The interior minister went further. Roberto Maroni, a leader of the anti-immigrant Northern League aligned with Berlusconi’s nationalist Forza Italia party, claimed the controversial census and fingerprinting was essential to discover ‘who is entitled to be here and who is not’.
    It would stop anonymous armies of Roma children being sent out begging or stealing by their families, 60 per cent of whom have no identity papers or passports, he claimed.
    Gipsy people with the right to stay would be re-housed in ‘decent conditions rather than with rats’. The remainder, Maroni made clear, could expect deportation.
    A Red Cross worker takes health information on a Roma woman. The Italian government’s plans to fingerprint Roma people has attracted international criticism
    Many observers, including the Roman Catholic Church, the United Nations, Roma and Jewish leaders, condemned Berlusconi’s actions. Comparisons were made with the Nazi registration of Jews and gipsies introduced by Adolf Hitler with the support of Mussolini.
    Only this week, the Italian parliament authorised six-year prison sentences for immigrants who lie about their identity, and instigated the deportation of foreigners who have been given any prison sentence of two years or more.
    For the first time, simply living in Italy illegally is punishable by up to four years in prison.
    But where will Berlusconi stop? Italy’s pledge to the EU that the census would not include a question about ethnicity has been blatantly breached, even for children such as Samantha.
    While fingerprinting children under 14 has been abandoned (they are photographed instead) following international disquiet, there are now whisperings that gipsy camps not sanctioned by the authorities – and there are 50 of these in Rome alone – will be destroyed by the authorities.
    Border controls are expected to be reintroduced to staunch the flow of migrants from Italy’s neighbours.
    No wonder there is a growing sense of unease at the huge – and illegal – Rotunda gipsy camp in Naples, where Samantha Jevremovic underwent fingerprinting.
    She lives there with her parents, two younger brothers and a toddler sister in a small white wooden hut.
    The family share one bedroom and eat at a table outside, whatever the weather.
    Samantha goes to school and hopes to train as a hairdresser. Her 32-year-old mother and itinerant metalworker father, 33, have no citizenship in Italy or anywhere else.
    On the census form they declared themselves ‘Ethnic Serbs’, who slipped into the country illegally in 1993, just before their eldest daughter was born.
    Her mother, Dani, says: ‘We didn’t want to co-operate. We are afraid.
    ‘But we hope by giving the information it will stop us being thrown out of Italy, which our children think of as home.’
    The camp has 700 residents and was first established 25 years ago. It’s the size of a sprawling village under a four-lane expressway to the north of the city.
    By any standards, it is a shabby place where potholes are filled with fetid water, toddlers run half-naked chased by cats around the alleys, and burnt-out cars outnumber brick houses.
    Most of the residents live in corrugated shacks without either a tap or a lavatory, with only a towel or a duvet pinned up to serve as a front door.
    Here, only two-thirds of the 300 children go to school, a pink-roofed building nearby. Their parents say they are afraid to send them because the appalling facilities in the camp mean they cannot wash the boys and girls each day.
    ‘They are scared that the Italian pupils will jeer at their dirty sons and daughters,’ explains 48-year-old Nihad Sajovic, one of the gipsy elders.
    ‘Would you send your child to class if that was going to happen?’
    At a table in the community hall, where the census took place, he added: ‘No one can imagine our situation during the past few months.
    ‘There is a witch-hunt under way and people now believe that we are the only ones who commit crimes in Italy.
    ‘It is not easy for us. There have been incriminations and accusations against our community. We no longer know what the future holds.
    ‘We want to put down roots; we want to stop fleeing because our people have been doing that since the War began in 1939.
    ‘At the end, the Jews were given money and a new land. We still have nothing.’
    Extraordinarily, the Red Cross of Italy has been persuaded by Berlusconi to help count gipsy heads and gather data on hundreds of families at 70 camps in Rome, an operation that will last until September.

    Massimo Barra, the charity’s president, this week visited one pitiful group of gipsies who have been living under a dripping railway arch near international Leonardo Da Vinci airport for six years.
    It can be reached only by a perilous walk along the main railway line between central Rome and the air terminus, then down a narrow gully.
    On the brick walls hang a few pots and pans. Tents take up most of the floor space.
    There is an acrid smell, and at night the rats come out. Surely this can’t be better than living in Romania, from where the 15 gipsies and their children had fled?
    ‘Yes it is,’ said Maria, mother of six. ‘There, we were accused and persecuted for being gipsies.
    ‘Up to now, we have lived in Italy in peace.’
    The Red Cross’s Mr Barra said: ‘We know that people are pointing and saying that this is reminiscent of the Nazis. But that is collective paranoia.
    ‘We want to get these children vaccinated, give them health checks and medical cards.
    ‘That is all this census is about. We are building bridges and not walls.’
    Whatever the truth of this, Italy’s history cannot be forgotten. It was as early as 1926 that Mussolini first expelled gipsies, calling them ‘sub humans’.

    It is thought that in the next 20 years, more than one million Roma people were killed in the extermination camps of Europe, alongside the Jews.

    The current wave of Italian xenophobia was given new impetus last November when an Italian admiral’s wife, a religious education teacher, was beaten with a rock in a sex attack by a Romanian migrant.

    Dreadfully injured, she was dumped in a ditch in a suburb of northern Rome. She died two days later and suspect Nicolae Mailat, 24, from Transylvania, was arrested in a nearby gipsy camp.

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