Italian newspapers perpetuate anti-Romani stereotypes

05 December 2000

The headline of an article in the November 14, 2000, edition of the Italian national daily Corriere della Sera read "If you don't pay immediately, I will call the Gypsies." An entrepreneurial loanshark reportedly threatened to call a band of "nomads" to scare a client into paying her debts. The loanshark was quoted as telling the loan recipient, who owed him 220 million Italian lire (approximately 113,500 euros) in interest, that "It is in your best interest to pay me. If not, I will turn your debt over to the nomads, who will know how to get money out of you. They are good at convincing debtors who aren't punctual in repaying." According to the article, the threat was intended to scare the woman into paying soon. However, she became so frightened that she reported the entire story to the police. Roma are frequently referred to as "nomads" in Italy.

In other Roma-related news from Italy, the press reported that recent surveys indicate anti-Romani prejudice in schools. "Gypsies in class, no thanks..." is the first line of an article published on October 5, 2000, by the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, in a report on a survey carried out by the Italian Ministry of Public Education. According to the Ministry, information from 50 different schools throughout Italy reveals that "foreigners enrich our students and break down prejudice, but the students themselves aren't able to accept 'little nomads' in their classroom." Teachers, parents and students all agreed that immigrant children were acceptable in schools while Romani children were not. Teachers surveyed said that "it is impossible to blend the nomad culture with ours." The article adds, "Curiously enough, the ones to express the harshest criticism are the children themselves who have had the nomads amongst them, not the parents."

Finally, RomNews Network reported on November 1, 2000, that Italian police found 88 illegal immigrants, 40 of them children, on a beach near Vieste, in southeast Italy, on October 28, 2000. According to official statements, the refugees are Roma from Kosovo. Authorities suspect that the refugees were dropped on the beach by boat in the early morning. The group was taken to a refugee centre. In addition, the body of an elderly man was found on the same beach. It is assumed that he died during the crossing from Montenegro. As of November 28, 2000, it was not known if the man was Romani or not. The situation of Roma in Italy is the subject of Campland: Racial Segregation of Roma in Italy, a new country series report by the ERRC.

(Corriere della Sera, ERRC, RomNews Network)

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