Rome (AFP) – Italy’s far-right anti-immigrant interior minister Matteo Salvini on Monday announced plans to count the Roma community living in the country and deport those without Italian nationality.
Those found to be Italian would “unfortunately” be allowed to stay, Salvini told a regional TV station in Lombardy, his home region in Northern Italy.
A census would allow the authorities to “see who, how (they live) and how many there are,” he said.
It would then allow the authorities to study the possibility of expelling Roma of foreign nationality whose stay in Italy was not in order.
“As for the Italian Roma, unfortunately one has to keep them at home,” he added.
Salvini, who caused uproar earlier this month when he barred an NGO-operated rescue ship from landing some 630 mostly African migrants in Italy, ran into similar protests for his latest remarks.
“Salvini is continuing his election campaign with ever wilder words,” said Simona Malpezzi, an opposition Democratic Party senator, referring to the March election that led to Salvini’s League party taking office as part of a populist coalition government on June 1.
A Roma Nation Association statement noted that the authorities had carried out a count of the community last year and called for a meeting with Salvini at the earliest opportunity.