Mothers in the Sicilian town of Monserrato have complained to the mayor after he hired two Roma women to work at a local school.
The Local has reported that Gianni Argiolas employed the two women as part of a scheme financed by the European Union to encourage integration and vocational skills.
But the aims of the programme backfired when around 40 mothers of children at the school complained, saying “our children will never attend a school with two Roma janitors”.
They say that Vasvja Severovic, a widow with six children and her friend Hena Halilovic, both from the Roma community, “scared the children” and complained that they were “smelly” and “dress in a strange way with those long skirts”.
Mayor Argiolas has responded to the complaints, with the local paper Unione Sarda saying he called the objections “racist” and refused to be swayed over the continued employment of the women.
He said that the integration project, which includes the town of Salargius where there is a Roma camp, was to continue.
Romanian migrants were allowed to travel to other countries in the EU, including Italy, long before they were granted full access to the UK. The Roma minorities are not liked in their native country and it was predicted that many would emigrate in the hope of escaping persecution.
Since 2010 the European Commission has continually kept Roma integration high on the political agenda. The EU Framework for national Roma integration strategies ensures all Member States with Roma populations now have national integration strategies which the Commission evaluates every year.
In May 2013 the Commission announced they were “making headway” on Roma integration, a scheme which benefits from three funds totalling €50billion a year from European tax payers.
Last week it was reported that the Mayor of Borgaro near Turin had given the go-ahead for a ‘gypsy only’ bus after locals complained of being attacked, spat on and robbed by travellers using the service.
Route 69 stops outside a 600-strong Roma camp on the road to the airport and regular commuters have said that gypsy gangs were lawless and violent. One woman who did not want to be named told local paper La Stampa: “Everyone was attacked. They punched the ticket machine. Then they got on the bus and stuck a knife to my cheek… if it wasn’t for the bus driver, I don’t know how it would have ended”.