Italian authorities investigate 65 neo-Fascists in Rome after anti-Roma protests
Yesterday the Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA) wire service reported that the Italian prosecutor is investigating 65 members of the neo-Fascist organization CasaPound and the extreme-right Forza Nuova party over recent incidents in two eastern suburbs of Rome targeting Romani people. Last week Pope Francis stood up for Roma and Sinti because of the racist attacks and received a visit from one of the families affected.
The extremists are suspected of inciting racial hatred, making threats, extorting people, defending Fascism, and assembling without permission. One of the incidents happened on 8 May east of Tiburtina train station in the Casal Bruciato area.
A 14-member Romani family originally from Bosnia had been rented a municipally-owned apartment there, which sparked protests both by extremists and local residents. The prosecutor is investigating 24 neo-Fascists and 16 locals in connection with the incident - the locals are charged with assembling without permission.
One of the extremists threatened to rape a Romani woman who was carrying a young child in her arms at the time. The next day, 500 Romani and Sinti people, including the family affected, were given a general audience at the Vatican.
"It's true, second-class citizens exist, but the real second-rate citizens are those who reject people because they cannot manage to accept them. They always find some attribute to assign to them, they live to condemn others, they tar everybody with the same brush," the Pope said during the audience."The right way, though, is the path of brotherhood, with an open door."
On 2 April, extremists and locals had engaged in a similar action, preventing a group of 60 Romani people from moving into a state-run accommodation center in the suburb of Torre Maura. That protest was attended by more than 200 people and the prosecutor is investigating 41 neo-Fascists who attended it.
CasaPound is the main leader of the current neo-Fascist scene in Italy. The organization established itself as a right-wing social center and gradually became a nationwide political force.
In 2014 and 2015 CasaPound was associated with the currently-governing Lega party, then called the Northern League. The group is constantly attracting sympathizers away from other neo-Fascist and neo-Nazi groups - an example is the outflow to it of members from the extreme-right Forza Nuova party, the head of which openly speaks of himself as a Fascist.
According to estimates, between 120 000 and 180 000 Romani people, roughly half of whom have Italian citizenship, currently live in the country of 60 million. Many Romani activists complain of deeply-rooted discrimination against them.
Romani activists allege it is impossible for them to find permanent housing and jobs, and that people from the minority are frequently targets of hate crime. In response to the recent incidents, and to the lax approach taken toward them by Interior Minister Salvini, yesterday many as 1 000 Romani people took to the streets of Milan for Romani Resistance Day in order to deliver the local prosecutor an open letter expressing their concerns over the hateful climate in Italy today.
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