Pope stands up for Romani people attacked by (neo)Fascists in Rome who threatened rape
Last Thursday Pope Francis held a prayer meeting with about 500 Romani and Sinti people at the Vatican during which he said reports of recent racist assaults against the Roma were very painful to him and criticized the people behind them. "I am praying for you and I am here for you," the Pope told them.
"Whenever I read something shameful in the newspapers, to tell you the truth, I suffer. Today I read something shaming and I am suffering about it," the Pope said.
Last week the (neo)Fascist CasaPound party assembled in a particular quarter of Rome to protest the leasing of a municipally-owned apartment to a 14-member Romani family from Bosnia. Several Italian media outlets published video footage of an activist from CasaPound calling the mother of the family a "whore" and threatening to rape her.
The incident happened on Tuesday, 7 May. The woman, who was carrying a child in her arms, had to be escorted by police to the rental housing.
Protests accusing Romani people of theft and other crimes are commonplace in Rome. Parties like CasaPound are of the view that the state should make native-born Italians their first priority of interest ahead of immigrants and Romani people.
Pope Francis criticized the motives for the creation of such second-class citizens. He also condemned those who think in terms of "us first, and then all the rest of you" when it comes to social rights.
"Yes, second-class citizens exist here, but those who are really second-rate are those who reject people because they are unable to accept them," the Pope said. The Romani family attacked by the CasaPound activists have been invited by the Pope to meet with him and other members of the Roman Catholic Church soon.
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