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Hindus, Jews ask EU to improve human rights in Italy

New Delhi, Fri, 06 Feb 2009 NI Wire

Taking note of the recent wave of racial and ethnic tensions, an alarming growth of xenophobia climate in Italy, Hindus and Jews have asked for immediate intervention of European Union for improving the Italian human rights situation.

USA-based Hindu statesman Rajan Zed and prominent Jewish leader Rabbi Jonathan B. Freirich in an e-mail released on Friday said that Italy's reported failure to protect its immigrants, minorities, and Roma populations was very upsetting, shocking and worrisome for the world and it needed to be addressed urgently.

Zed and Rabbi Freirich stressed that Italy should also create an effective Ombudsman for protection and promotion of human rights in order to halt its increasing isolation from the rest of Europe. Life of people who were perceived "different" was not of much worth in Italy these days.

Reportedly rising social tensions, racial strains and prejudice, hostility and anti-immigrant and anti-Roma backlash, creeping xenophobia, racially motivated attacks, officials promoting xenophobia, setting on fire of an Indian immigrant, discriminatory fingerprinting of Roma, lobbed Molotov cocktails at a Roma encampment, beating up of the son of an Angolan diplomat, murder of a young man from Burkina Faso, killing of six African immigrants, beating up of Albanians and Romanians, etc., indicated plaguing of the Italian fabric; these religious leaders pointed out

They urged politicians not to link Italy's economic and social woes and rising crime to these marginalized groups and making them a scapegoat. Despite their longstanding presence in Italy, Roma were still an underclass in Italian society and it was still rare to find immigrants in white-collar jobs. With the changing times, Italy needed to become more open and pluralistic at par with other European countries and culture of exclusion, intolerance and rejection should go.

Both the leaders however thanked the president, trade unions, voluntary sector, church, etc.; who spoke in defence of human rights of these marginalized groups. Council of Europe has already lambasted Italy for xenophobic environment and maltreatment of Roma population.

Zed, who is the president of Universal Society of Hinduism, argued that Italian government, political parties, and religious bodies should openly and clearly condemn xenophobia against these marginalized groups because they had a commitment to protect them.

It is to mention here that migrant workers generally contribute about five percent of the Italy’s population as industrialised north attracts many from North Africa and Eastern Europe. However, unfortunately, Italy’s right wing groups hold Roma and other minority and migrants responsible for the falling social and economic standard of the nation. EU and international human rights organizations have already condemned the Italian government for not doing enough for the concern while fuelling the same with its anti-immigrant policies.

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