On 4 November, the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera quoted Gianfranco Fini, a prominent figure in the National Alliance party. There would be nothing unusual in the fact, if it were not for the content of Mr Fini's statements. Three days after the arrest of a Romani man accused of murdering an Italian woman, Mr Fini made a point of stating that a) 'They (the Roma) consider theft almost legitimate and not immoral'; b) They feel the same way about not working 'because it has to be (their) women who do so, often by prostituting themselves.' Mr Fini further made some points concerning child exploitation being a thing about which the Roma have 'no scruples', using the children for begging. He then concluded his statements by the remark that 'To talk of integration with people with a 'culture' of that sort is pointless.'
Somehow, this sounds familiar. Racist excuses concerning the impossibility of integrating ‘them’ because of their ‘perverse culture’ are a staple of anti-integration rhetoric in many societies. When it comes to providing justificiation why ‘they’ could not and should not be part of ‘us’, racist thinking comes into its own.
Take Mr. Lācis, one of the most fiery rhetoricians of the Latvian Parliament. What exactly did he imply when stating that ‘Unfortunately the vast majority of Latvia’s Russians, especially the Russian youth, are the same as the Russian-speakers of Tallinn. Exactly they were those 6 thousand that demonstrated under the banners of Stalin’ ? Did he mean that the people who took part in the unrest following the removal of the Bronze Soldier in Tallinn were imported wholesale from Riga or Daugavpils? Or – which is much more probable – did he imply that if some ethnic Russians (in Estonia) are capable of smashing shop windows in a political brawl, that implies that a ‘vast majority’ of people with similar ethnic origins would gladly do the same? In the latter case, I’m afraid, we are dealing with blatant racism.
By the way, Mr Fini is unlikely to get away easily with his remarks. European Roma Rights Center has turned to a number of institutions, including the Prosecutor General of Rome, to investigate his statements. Protests were heard from human rights organisations. It may happen that in the future we shall see Corriere della Sera apologise for publishing Mr Fini’s remarks without any comments as to their racist nature.