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Italian Youths Torch Gypsy Villages in Naples

The AFP reports:
Thursday, May 15, 2008

ROME (AFP) – – Two Roma encampments in southern Italy were set alight Wednesday to keep their inhabitants from returning after they fled attacks by local residents, a report said.
Firefighters had just put out the first blaze in Ponticelli on the fringes of Naples when a second encampment nearby was set alight, Italy’s ANSA news agency said.
Police said the blazes were meant to scare off the Roma, who had abandoned their huts and gone into hiding amid tensions sparked by the attempted kidnapping of an Italian baby by a 16 year-old gypsy girl last Saturday.
Most of them left the encampments in the middle of the night, with roughly 50 remaining in Ponticelli under police protection.
Petrol bombs had already set fire early Tuesday to four huts at the gypsy encampment. No casualties were reported.
On Tuesday evening, hundreds of demonstrators including teenagers armed with sticks had gathered around the camp as a police helicopter hovered overhead, ANSA said.
The Roma attacks near Naples will fan the flames of a wider immigration row developing in Italy, particularly with relation to Romanian immigrants.

Times Online reports:

Across town, at another Roma camp made of converted containers next to a bus depot in the southwestern suburb of Magliana, I find Riccardo Di Segni, the Chief Rabbi of Rome, talking to Hanifa Rustic, an elderly Bosnian who tells him that she came to Italy at the age of 13, fleeing pro-Nazi Croatian Fascists in an earlier era of intolerance.
Å“There are alarming signs of racism in Italy today,? says Di Segni, who is visiting the camp to express Jewish solidarity. Jews and Gypsies both ended up in Hitler’s concentration camps, he points out. We have to be on the alert, not only because of what is happening but because of what could happen. First one group is singled out, then another. This must be stopped now.
Å“We are treated like criminals even though most Roma people are honest,says Mioara Miclescu, a Romanian at the Magliana camp who runs a laundry employing Roma women. Å“We are living in fear.?

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