Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini.

The European Jewish Congress expresses its profound shock and concern at the proposal of Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini to order a census of the country’s Roma population and to deport those not holding Italian citizenship.

“The listing of ethnic minority populations in order to deport so-called undesirables recalls the darkest days of 20th century Europe. It is not only illegal, but also unjust and inhumane,” said EJC President Dr. Moshe Kantor. “We unequivocally condemn this proposal and request that it is withdrawn immediately.”

Minister Salvini said that a census of Italy’s Roma population would allow the authorities to study the possibility of expelling Roma without Italian nationality. The European Jewish Congress joins with its Italian affiliate, the Union of Italian Jewish Communities (UCEI), in its firm opposition to this proposal which so sadly brings back very real memories of the legge razziale, the antisemitic legislation introduced by Italy’s fascist government on the eve of the Holocaust, in 1938.

“The Jews of Europe know all too well where ethnic censuses and scapegoating of minorities lead. Such forms of racism have no place in our democracies,” Dr. Kantor said. “We call on the Italian government to reject this inhumane proposal and for the minister himself to formally apologise to Roma in Italy.”