Nine in ten Italians don't like Roma: survey

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A Roma man at a camp outside Rome, since demolished (archive). Photo: Christophe Simon
11:29 CEST+02:00
A vast majority of Italians hold anti-Roma views, according to a new study published by the Pew Research Centre.

The study compared views on ethnic minority groups, including Muslims and Jews, across European countries. When asked whether they had favourable or unfavourable attitudes towards Roma, 86 percent of Italians said they were unfavourable.

Anti-Roma sentiment in Italy is sigificantly stronger than in any other European country surveyed. In Spain, the UK and Germany more than 50 percent of those surveyed expressed positive opinions towards Roma people.

Roma people in Italy face widespread discrimination, and many are forced to live in shanty towns in major cities.

Lucca Dotti from Sucar Drom, an association of pro-Roma activists in Mantua, told The Local: “It is difficult if not impossible for Roma people to find jobs. We are the only country in Europe that has nomadic camps for Roma people. People don't want to live in camps.” 

At present, it is estimated that  there are 40,000 Italian Roma living in such camps throughout Italy.

SEE ALSO: The Local's report from Rome's Roma slums

This figure emerges at a time when anti Roma feelings are running high in Italy. Last week, two young Roma boys killed a Fillipino woman and injured eight more in a hit and run incident in Rome. The event has been covered widely by the Italian press.

In the wake of the event, Matteo Salvini, leader of Italy's far-right Lega Nord Party wrote on Facebook: “Once we're back in the government we will raze these damn Roma camps to the ground!” 

Salvini's comments have drawn criticism from pro-Roma groups in Italy, but anti-Roma language is common. A Rome bakery last year drew criticism for a "no gypsies" sign on its door.

SEE ALSO: Rome's 'No gypsies' sign sparks furore

The Pew Research Centre report also asked Italians whether they had favourable views of Muslims and Jews. Sixty-one percent responded that they had unfavourable attitudes towards Muslims, while 21 percent were negative towards Jews.

According to Italian government statistics, Italy is home to more than 130,000 Roma people, compared to 650,000 in Spain, 120,000 in Germany and 90,000 in the UK. 

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