Expelled: l’intelligence, n’est pas permis

When I first came to live in Italy in late 2007, a debate about immigration that had been simmering for years finally began to boil over. As the Prodi government staggered and fell, a coalition government, led by Berlusconi’s newly-branded People of Liberty (PdL) party took power. Instrumental to their success was the partnership of Umberto Bossi’s Northern League (LN), a party that had initially garnered attention in the early nineties with its breakway rhetoric. In recent years the League has turned its attention and substantial populist base to more electorate-friendly issues, federalism and immigration among them. As the immigration debate has grown more heated in the past three years, Interior Minister Roberto Maroni has become more of a public figure. This week, he weighed in on France’s controversial decision to ‘voluntarily’ expatriate almost 100 Roma or Gypsies back to Romania, their country of origin.

Maroni has come out in the Corriere della Sera saying that France ‘copied’ Italy and that Italy will go one step further this time. (As well as indulging in the usual political opportunism by pointing out that it was under former left wing Rome mayor Veltroni’s watch that these stringent policies were adopted.)

English-language coverage:

(In Italian)

The League enjoys solid support all over the north particularly in the former Christian Democrat strongholds of Lombardy and Veneto. On the streets of Rovigo, a town in the Veneto that I’ve called home on and off for the past several years, things don’t seem that bad with regard to immigration: during last night’s evening walk I saw several teens of African descent out with their white Italian peers, joking and chatting colloquially, and at the pizzeria in isolated Granzette there were at least two groups of multi-ethnic diners downing beers and chomping enthusiastically on pizza. After the beating death of Abba Guibre in Milan last year, that’s good news.

But as anyone who has been to Romania, Bulgaria or Macedonia knows, the Roma often stand apart, even in their countries of origin. What France has done is shameful and contravenes EU law. A follow up to minister Maroni’s comments in the Corriere states as much, and the powerful CEI (Conferance of Bishops) in Italy has come out against France’s policy and Maroni’s braggadocio as well. Italy, for so long at the fringes of the EU, may have something to teach big brother France in this matter. Let’s hope so.

This entry was posted in gypsies, immigration, italy, maroni, roma. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Expelled: l’intelligence, n’est pas permis

  1. scott says:

    There are many themes for discussion here, but I would begin with economics. Romania is near to being the most impoverished country in Europe, and if there are no jobs in Romania workers will go where the jobs are. I would label them economic refugees (forced migration through economic necessity). However, I find it ironic that French taxpayer dollars are basically paying for Roma vacations. They are deported, go home to see family and friends, and then return to France where they are let right back in. Does that make any sense? If you're going to deport someone, either ban them forever or don't fly them out at all. If this is a reaction to the drugs and violent crime concomitant with shanty-towns, I would ask readers what they would do if a group of Roma just moved in down the street. Would it change your mind in any way if it was in your backyard? I also suspect that other world leaders are secretly jealous of the bravado of Sarkozy and Maroni, and wish they could enact such policies yet with an even more hardline stance. The state has always made it clear that there is no place for nomadism in industrialized nations.

  2. matt o says:

    Due to forced migration (or integration, as in Romania) they are also political refugees. Have been for 2,000 years.

  3. Pingback: More on the EU and the Roma | Irate Copyeditor

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