Hindus and Jews call out Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for reportedly using Gypsies (Roma) as a scapegoat in Milan mayoral elections.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed and Rabbi Jonathan B. Freirich, prominent Jewish leader in Nevada and California in USA; in a statement issued in Nevada today, said that it was time for Berlusconi to talk on issues instead of blaming Gypsies for all the ills and apparently playing the race card.
Berlusconi ally, the incumbent Mayor Letizia Moratti, is contesting the elections. According to reports, Berlusconi warned that Milan would be turned into Gypsytown if his mayoral candidate is defeated.
Terming it as “misplaced attitude of Italian authorities towards Roma population”, Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, and Rabbi Freirich stressed that Italy should come out with long-term solutions on Roma issue. Crackdowns, forcible evacuations and frequent dismantling of Roma campsites without offering proper alternatives was simply inhuman and a dark stain on Italy and Europe and did not solve anything. Italy should show responsibility and arrange housing for all Roma where they could live their lives with dignity. About 150,000 Roma reportedly live in Italy, with about 100 camps in Rome alone.
Rajan Zed and Jonathan Freirich further said that religion clearly told us to help the helpless, defenseless and downtrodden and love them, but His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, whose Vatican City is in the middle of Italy and only about 370 miles from Milan, had hardly ever come out with a strong statement supporting the Roma cause.
Zed and Rabbi Freirich argued that Roma maltreatment in Europe was like an undeclared apartheid. Roma reportedly regularly face terribel conditions and treatment including: social exclusion, racism, substandard education, hostility, joblessness, rampant illness, inadequate housing, lower life expectancy, unrest, living on desperate margins, rights violations, discrimination, marginalization, and appalling living conditions.
Rajan Zed and Rabbi Jonathan Freirich also criticized the management of Vatican’s ancient Roman Catholic basilica St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls for not properly sheltering the Roma displaced by dismantling of their camp in Rome in April. In February, three brothers and a sister, aged 4-11 years, perished while asleep when fire swept through their shack, while adults were out running errands in a Roma settlement in Rome outskirts, according to reports.