Italian Deputy Prime Minister says EU Justice Commissioner's critique of Italy's treatment of Roma is "nonsense"
The Italian Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has sharply responded to critical words from the EU Justice Commissioner, Věra Jourová of the Czech Republic, who said Italy is "playing with fire" by disseminating hate speech against Romani people in its public debate. Salvini, who heads the anti-immigration party Lega (The League), called her words "more nonsense from Brussels".
Salvini called on the Justice Commissioner to visit the camps where Romani people live in his country and where, according to him, the laws are being broken. "Why doesn't this lady come visit the Romani camps in Rome or Milan - she would see arms, illegality, abused children and stolen property," Salvini tweeted.
The minister is facing criticism from human rights organizations over his approach toward immigrants and the Romani minority and over his proposal earlier this year to perform a "head count" of Romani people living in Italy, which sparked a great deal of opposition. According to Salvini's plan, those Romani people who were not born in Italy would have to leave the country.
Jourová made her remarks at a press conference in Brussels in response to a question from an Italian journalist asking whether she is concerned about the direction of the most populous southern European country given the rising levels of hate speech by Italian politicians toward the Romani minority. "I have concerns," she said, recalling the hate speech against Romani people that was disseminated by the Nazis more than half a century ago.
"This reminds us of our dark past and if we do not learn from that past, then it can repeat itself," warned the EU Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality. She said the European Commission is following the development of the debate about this hate speech through the Internet in association with its attempts to get the operators of big online social networking sites to delete such speech.
The Justice Commissioner said that migrants heading to Europe had become the most frequent target for such attacks in recent years, but after the recent decline in migrant numbers, Romani people are again occupying the position of the most-often targeted group online. "I am very disturbed because we must stop this while there is still time to do so," the Justice Commissioner said.
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