Italy is in the grip of xenophobia and hatred toward Romas which now has impacted those of Romanian background who have migrated to the country. There are about 1.2 million Romanians in Italy and many believe they are being lumped in with the Roma immigrants. Rome’s right wing mayor, Gianni Alemanno, who has no love for Romas, has appointed Romano Badescu, an actress and singer to become his point person in reaching out to the Romanian population. “I hope to become a bridge between the Romanians and the mayor,” she said. Her first task is setting up a free phone service in both Italian and Romanian to assist immigrants obtain information such as residence permits.
Some Italians are furious at the appointment which they deride in no uncertain terms. “What does this bird know about what the Romanians in Italy are up to,” said one web comment while another derided the mayor by commenting, “it’s scandalous to give this job to a ‘lady’ who has no qualifications for the job.” Ms. Badescu has a degree in commerce and economics and argues she is an immigrant and understands issues faced by newcomers.
It is interesting that Ms. Badescu made clear to differentiate between Roma and Romanian immigrants. “The Romas and the Romanians are two completely different peoples. The crime reports have created this prejudice against an entire people.” Of course, in her view, the prejudice created by a few Roma criminals is unfair to Romanians, but she fails to note it is equally unfair to the overwhelming majority of Romas who have never committed a crime. Ms. Badescu sings like the bigot she is–in nuanced tones.