European Xenophobia?

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

The debate over illegal immigrants isn't just an American issue. In Italy, the government was voted into power on a platform of promises to crack down on illegal immigrants; a group many say is associated with criminal activity. This week, Italian authorities began a program to fingerprint every Roma Gypsy in the country. The European Union passed a non-binding resolution calling on Rome to stop the program, but authorities have no plans to do so. Across the Continent in Ukraine, a new report from Amnesty International cites an "alarming rise" in the number of racially motivated attacks. The group says four people have died there this year, and more than 60 have been targeted in racial attacks. Swiss citizens will soon vote on a plan to ban the construction of Muslim minarets. And members of the European Union have agreed, in principle, to expel illegal immigrants from European soil by 2012. We'll talk with NPR's Sylvia Poggioli in Rome today, about what she has seen in Italy and throughout Europe. If you live in Europe, or have been recently, have seen any signs of a growing xenophobia?

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I don't know if it's just a bad day, but Guy is just terrible at hosting!

He keeps interrupting the guests and callers in an awkward way and doesn't really seem to be paying attention to what they are saying, rather just anticipating the next thing he'd like to say. It's distracting.

I realize there are time constraints, but today's behavior seems to have deflated the program.

Sent by Alex Breyer | 3:16 PM | 7-10-2008

several years ago while in Madrid I had an experience with pick pockets. Realizing what was going on, I yanked my purse and moved away and looked directly at the two (2) women involved. I later found that the handbag had been sliced with a sharp instrument. The real point here is that everyone I spoke to thereafter, said, "they were gypsies, be careful". It became clear to me that this was and automatic reaction based on bias. My real reaction was as a native NYer, I was too sophisticated to have such a thing happen to me.

Sent by jf strachan | 3:34 PM | 7-10-2008

A potentially interesting topic, but I feel that NPR has missed the mark on this by ignoring the opposition to immigration. We cannot ignore (unless we want nothing more than an editorialized 40 minute radio program) that the European New-Right may have a valid point against this sort of immigration.

As a photojournalist who has spent much time working abroad on the issues of immigration and diaspora, I have found anti-Roma sentiment within nearly every native Spaniard, French, German (etc.) I've spoken with on the subject despite their political affiliation, age group or economic class. In my experience, most view the Roma with a great deal of suspicion - as beggars, pickpockets and muggers who refuse to make any attempt towards integration into life in their new chosen country outside of learning the phrase in Spanish/French/German (etc.) for "Please, I need money, my baby is very ill" or some variation thereof.

Sent by Adam T | 4:51 PM | 7-10-2008

Xenophobia? This is a negative term and really does not address the real issue. The world is in constant upheavel, more so recently than usual. People feel tremendous insecurity. When national and local political leaders allow large waves of immigrants flood a society which drastically or significantly alters their culture, people react. This is not a justification or support discrimination against any group of people. When a group of people, ethnic or otherwise, remain outside of the mainstream of a society and also have a signficantly different culture, people feel threaten and react negatively toward such groups. Its not a question of Xenophobia but one of how to intergrate such groups into mainstream society. These groups regardless of their ethnic make-up have a responsibility to intergrate into the society of which they are a member. Otherwise, accept the fact that they will run the risk of being targeted by the larger society.

Sent by Michael | 6:02 PM | 7-10-2008

I completely disagree with Alex Breyer with respect to Guy Raz. I have appreciated and enjoyed Mr. Raz reporting and believe he has continued his excellent work hosting this show. Hopefully, he will have future opportunities to host such shows.

Sent by Michael | 6:16 PM | 7-10-2008

Oh My Gosh !!
It's 1932 again!

Sent by Harold | 2:08 PM | 7-11-2008

I just finished listening to this piece on podcast.

One important fact that was not mentioned is that Roma/Sinti populations were also put in concentration camps and exterminated during the Holocaust. They were also subject to the Nuremberg Laws. So it is superfluous for Glen Ford to say "just substitute the word Roma or Gypsy for the word Jew" when analyzing Italian laws. Roma/Sinti aren't NEW targets of European xenophobia.

The Holocaust chastened and shamed Europe's attitude toward the Jewish people. But either a lack of awareness of Roma victims of the genocide, a total silencing of Roma/Sinti who would otherwise advocate on their own behalf, or sheer racism makes Italy's present policy more than a mere "echo" of 1933.

Sent by Sarah M. | 11:29 AM | 7-12-2008

This report is very unfaira nd one-sided. There have been numerous extremely vicious attacks against native Europeans, especially women, young people and the elderly, by immigrants or the children of immigrants, and many of them have been racially motivated. As usual the liberals do not care about violent and racist attacks against white people, either here in the US, or even in Europe, where they are the indigenous people being attacked in their own ancestral homelands, and demonized as "racist" if they try to do anything about it.

Sent by MaryJ | 7:45 PM | 7-12-2008

MaryJ- these are the same vicious attacks that were once(not too long ago) cast upon many of the now "immigrant" groups by Europeans in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America. You are only victims of your own creating.

The problem is that too many people like to cast away "history" as though it has nothing to do with the present. While Europe was out dehumanizing and exploiting 85% of the people and the planet to create its now prosperous societies, it was also establishing rigid and complex caste systems that are in place today in "third world" countries where many people flee for a better life. Also, while you became "enlightened" and decided that people should be treated like human beings, you also realized you still needed cheap labor to support your free market developments and sustain your "enlightened" societies. Now, your people are enjoying semi-decent lives, not having children, and complaining about the millions of people who come to slave away looking for decent lives when you yourselves planted these connections! Same goes for the United States.

Its the free market system that you yourselves worked so hard to create. If you don't want immigrants "ruining" your socieities, dismantle the free market system and disconnect yourselves from the world. Keep your European products and people within your own borders. Not possible now, is it?

DEAL WITH THE CONSEQUENCES and stop blaming others for what your ancestors created and wanted.

Sent by LS | 2:00 PM | 7-15-2008

all PERSONS living and staying within the borders of a country must be under a legal status (citizenship, visa, assylum, etc), if the authoritys found somebody being out of the law that PERSON should be procesed according to the law and eventually deported if is the case, regardless of any particular feature of that person (believes, color, or origin...if that PERSON also commit any other crime it should be prosecuted for that crime just like everybody and treated equally...so growing illegal inmigration means that inmigration departament it's bad performing the job, and taking fingerpints from gipsys in italy it's yes a break on human rights...

Sent by julio degoycoechea | 4:12 AM | 7-31-2008