Yes, they’re in Italy too (and a whole lot of Europe).
That victory last month, which included the election of Rome’s first right-wing mayor since World War II and the stiffest rejection ever of communists, was part of a significant shift in favor of the Italian political right, composed of restyled former Fascists, anti-immigrant forces and traditional conservatives.
Bossi and three other members of his Northern League party were given choice seats in the new Cabinet, including control of the Interior Ministry, which oversees police and most domestic security.
In this climate, it came as little surprise that the government’s first action has been a harsh police crackdown on the Rom, an oft-targeted minority also known as Gypsies.
Bossi and the Northern League are widely seen here as the moving force behind the decision to target Gypsies and illegal immigrants, two groups blamed for a rash of recent crimes. Hundreds of Rom and foreigners were arrested, scores deported, and ramshackle Gypsy camps razed or burned to the ground by either authorities or vigilantes.
“All Gypsies must go,” the league’s Davide Boni, an official in the Lombardy regional government, said in an interview in his office in Milan.
The league, which is based in Lombardy, would add most Romanians and Muslim immigrants to the list, Boni said. Overall, he said, the party advocates reducing immigration to between 5% and 10% of its current level. “That way, you have immigration and integration,” he said. “What you have now is invasion.”
Well that sounds familiar. And these dudes may be even bigger assholes than their American counterparts:
“People want this country to remain theirs,” said Bossi, who once advocated shooting at boats bringing immigrants to Italy’s shores.
Another Cabinet post went to the league’s Roberto Calderoli, best remembered for appearing on television in a T-shirt emblazoned with a cartoon of the prophet Muhammad and for planning to parade pigs on land where Muslims were attempting to build mosques, both gestures seen as insults to Islam.
And they’re preying on (and encouraging) existing anti-immigrant sentiments:
The most shocking incidents occurred last week in Naples, where residents, reacting to reports that a Gypsy woman had attempted to kidnap an Italian child, torched several camps, forcing hundreds of men, women and children to flee. Many were later loaded in the back of trucks and taken to safety, in scenes that United Nations officials compared to “ethnic cleansing” in the Balkans in the 1990s — the very events that drove some of these Rom to Italy in the first place.
The European Union, Spain and international human rights organizations condemned the actions. Italy could face sanctions.
Although the interior minister, the league’s Roberto Maroni, publicly condemned the vigilante violence, Bossi chimed in with an apparent justification: “People do what the state can’t manage.”
But nah, I’m sure that just like over here, Italy’s anti-immigrant politicians are totally not at all racist.