Call for census of Gypsies in Italy recalls pre-Holocaust anti-Semitic laws


ROME (JTA)— Italy’s Jewish community condemned a call by the country’s hardline interior minister to take a census of Italy’s Roma, or Gypsy, population.

The Union of Italian Jewish Communities, or UCEI, said in a statement issued Tuesday that the call by Matteo Salvini to create a “registry” of Roma in Italy recalled the anti-Semitic legislation introduced by Italy’s fascist government on the eve of the Holocaust in 1938.

Salvini told a TV station on Monday that he had asked the ministry to prepare a dossier on the situation of Roma in Italy “in order to see ‘who,’ ‘how,’ and ‘how many.’” His statement drew sharp protest from the center-left opposition. Later, he said he had no intention of “creating files or taking digital fingerprints” of individual Roma.

Salvini’s “announcement of a possible, specific census of the Roma population in Italy worries us and reawakens memories of the racist measures taken just 80 years ago and, sadly, increasingly forgotten,” the UCEI statement said.

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Salvini is the leader of the right-wing League Party, which in the March 4 elections scored victories in much of northern Italy with a virulent anti-immigrant platform.

The UCEI statement said there was no “search for consensus, no anxiety about public order that justifies the disturbing proposal to single out specific social categories of citizens, to censor them and subject them to special security policies reserved only for them.”