The supermarket sign in Catania warns shoppers against donating cash to “the gypsies at the door”.
“Their begging allows them to earn from 60 to 80 euro a day, an amount of money that a specialized ITALIAN worker doesn't earn, considering that the total sum is free from tax,” the sign reads, published by Ansa.
Supermercato, non fate elemosina a Rom. Cartello a Catania: guadagnano 80 euro al giorno, più di operaio. http://t.co/aEqwNbSLmT— Ansa Sicilia (@AnsaSicilia) August 20, 2014
Frustration and financial hardship have been growing in southern Italy, where salaries remain low and unemployment high.
Despite this, Adam Weiss, legal director at the European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC), said the sign amounted to “pure racism” and was entirely unacceptable.
“From our point of view we see this incident as a symptom of a bigger problem, a real climate of hostility in Italy,” he told the Local.
“People wouldn’t dream of doing this for any other ethnic group, but they seem to think they can do this with impunity against the Roma,” Weiss said.
Discrimination against the Roma community is getting worse in Italy, with members of the Roma community increasingly being subjected to gang violence, he said. While there are more examples of anti-Roma discrimination in Italy than elsewhere, such problems are being documented by the ERRC across Europe.
In Italy last year the ERRC discovered victims of theft were asked to fill out a police form in which they were able to name “gypsies” as the culprits, without any other options of ethnicity. Rights groups successfully campaigned to have the tickbox removed.
Earlier this year owners of a Rome bakery put a sign in the window banning “gypsies” from entering. The move was likened to persecution in Nazi Germany by rights group 21 luglio, but won support from some members of the public.