Italy: One bus for Roma, one for everyone else - is apartheid on the way?
The British newspaper The Telegraph and the online news service The Local report that the mayor of the town of Borgaro is accused of wanting to introduce apartheid in Italy after proposing the introduction of one bus line only for Romani people and another for everyone else. "Two lines. One for us, one for them," Mayor Claudio Gambino (Democratic Party) suggested at a meeting on Thursday with residents of the town, garnering enormous applause.
According to the controversial proposal, two bus lines would be run on a route with many Romani passengers where pickpocketing is reported as occurring frequently. "I will meet with the Police Commissioner, it seems to be the only solution," the mayor said.
Residents of the 13 000-strong town located north of Turin have long complained of Romani people harassing and pickpocketing them on bus line 69, which has been nicknamed "the gypsy bus". The line runs on a bypass around Turin and stops near the airport at a place where approximately 1 500 Romani people live in a single location.
During the most recent incident on the bus a 13-year-old girl was violently robbed of her mobile phone; her father then turned to the mayor. Massimo Gramellini, a commentator with the Italian daily La Stampa, is defending the mayor's decision, saying it is not about apartheid, but about protecting passengers from illegal behavior.
Others, however, are shaprly criticizing the mayor and charging him with racism and introducing apartheid. National and regional politicians from the center and the left of the political spectrum have clearly distanced themselves from the proposal.
Those politicians have called Gambino's suggestion indecent and unacceptable. "I reject all charges of racism," Gambino told the Italian media.
"This is about legality and security, not xenophobia," the mayor said. His proposal was immediately exploited by politicians in the ultra-right Northern League party, who suggested similar bus lines be introduced in Rome as well.
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