Racism in Italy deals with the relations of Italians and other populations of different nationality in the country's history. Racism, like bigotry, is encountered in most societies, and Italy is no exception. Even though a unified sense of national-corporate identity as found in the classic European nations to the north has been historically fragile, the peoples of Italy have long prided themselves on an absence of racial enmity. These ideas were first inculcated when Italy began invading and colonizing African countries, though policies regarding miscegenated children (meticci) were confusing. Under Benito Mussolini's fascist state, once the régime consolidated its pact with Nazi Germany, anti-Semitic laws were passed, as were laws prohibiting internal migration under certain circumstances. The post-war mass migration from the south towards the industrialized north engendered a degree of diffidence across the Italian social strata. A wave of immigration by extra-comunitari (non-EU immigrants; the word has strong undertones of rejection) from the late 80s, gave rise to political movements, like the Northern League, once hostile to the so-called terroni (a slur against southern Italians) and clandestini (illegal immigrants) from the areas south of the Mediterranean. In 2011, a report by Human Rights Watch pointed to growing indications of a rise in xenophobia within the Italian society.
In Medieval Italy, slavery was widespread, but was justified more often on religious rather than racial grounds. Almost all slaves in Genoa belonged to non-European races; the situation was different in Venice and Palermo, where emancipated slaves were considered free citizens in the 13th century.
Scientific racism was popularized in Italy by criminologist Cesare Lombroso. Lombroso's theory of atavism compared white civilization and other races with "primitive" or "savage" societies. His theories connecting physiognomy to criminal behavior explicitly blamed higher homicide rates in southern Italy on the influence of African and Asian blood on its population. In 1871 Lombroso published The White Man and the Man of Color, aimed at showing that the white man was superior in every respect to other races. Lombroso explicitly stated his belief in white supremacy: "only we whites have achieved the most perfect symmetry in the forms of the body [...] possess a true musical art [...] have proclaimed the freedom of the slave [...] have procured the liberty of thought". Lombroso equated the criminal tendencies of the white population to residual "blackness". The ideas of Lombroso about race would spread around Europe at the end of the 19th century.
Lombroso, who also wrote extensively on the topic of anti-Semitism in Europe and attacked anti-Semitic racial theory, distinguished between European Jews, as generally "Aryan", and traditionalist Jews whose religious practices he excoriated, and regarded southerners in Italy as "atavistic".
Other Italian anthropologists and sociologists also explored Lombroso's path of scientific racism. The Sicilian Alfredo Niceforo followed Lombroso's physiognomical approach, but in 1906 published a racial theory where both blond pigmentation of hair and dark skin were considered signs of degeneration, with the Italian race in a positive middle ground. Niceforo held these views as late as 1952, claiming that "Negroid and Mongoloid types were more frequent in the lower classes". In 1907 anthropologist Ridolfo Livi attempted to show that Mongolian facial features correlated with poorer populations. However, he maintained that the superiority of the Italian race was proven by its capability to positively assimilate other ethnic components.
Italian Jews had one of the highest rates of integration in mixed marriages in the diaspora. Jews fervently supported the Risorgimento, identified as Italian nationalists, proved valiant as soldiers in WW1, and, in terms of their relatively small numerical presence within the population generally, formed a disproportionate part of the Fascist party from its beginnings down to 1938. It is still debated whether Italian Fascism was originally anti-Semitic. Mussolini originally distinguished his position Hitler's fanatical racism while affirming he himself was a Zionist. More broadly, he even proposed building a mosque in Rome as a sign that Italy was the Protector of Islam, a move blocked by a horrified Pope. German propagandists often derided what they called Italy's "Kosher Fascism". There were however some Fascists, Roberto Farinacci and Giovanni Preziosi being prime examples, who held fringe extremist racist views before the alliance with Nazi Germany. Preziosi was the first to publish an Italian edition of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, in 1921, which was published almost simultaneously with a version issued by Umberto Benigni in supplements to Fede e Ragione.. The book however had little impact until the mid-1930s.
It has also been indicated Benito Mussolini had his own, if somewhat different from Nazi, brand of racist views. Mussolini was quoted as saying: "the white man has to subdue the black, brown and yellow races."
Mussolini had held the view that a small contingent of Italian Jews had lived in Italy "since the days of the Kings of Rome" (a reference to the Bené Roma) and should "remain undisturbed". One of Mussolini's mistresses, Margherita Sarfatti, was Jewish. There were even some Jews in the National Fascist Party, such as Ettore Ovazza who founded the Jewish Fascist paper La Nostra Bandiera in 1935. Mussolini once declared "Anti-Semitism does not exist in Italy... Italians of Jewish birth have shown themselves good citizens and they fought bravely in [World War I]."
Despite the presence of a Fascist regime, Italy in the first half of the 1930s was seen as a safe haven by some Jewish refugees. The country hosting up to 11,000 persecuted Jews, including 2,806 of German descent. However, as early as 1934 there had been removals of Jewish personnel from institutions and state organizations. 1934 also saw press campaigns against anti-fascist Jews, equating them with Zionists. Between 1936 and 1938, Fascist regime-endorsed anti-Semitic propaganda was mounting in the press and even in graffiti. Equally, scholars of eugenetics, statistics, anthropology and demographics began to outline racist theories.
In 1937, the Second Italo-Ethiopian War led to the first Fascist Laws promoting explicit racial discrimination. These were the laws against madamato – that is, the concubinage between Italians and African women in occupied territories. The penalty for madamato was from one to five years of prison. Remarkably, one of the justifications of the laws was that such relationships were abusive towards the women. In the occupied Eritrea women in fact took marriage by the traditional custom of dämòz, which was not legally recognized by the Italian state, thus relieving the husband from any legal obligation toward the woman. However, at the same time, a campaign against the putative dangers of miscegenation started in Italy. The Church endorsed the laws which stated the "hybrid unions" had to be forbidden because of "the wise, hygienic and socially moral reasons intended by the State": the "inconvenience of a marriage between a White and a Negro", plus the "increasing moral deficiencies in the character of the children".
In the late 1930s Benito Mussolini became a major ally of Nazi Germany, culminating in the Pact of Steel. The influence of Nazi ideology on Italian Fascism appeared in a 16 February 1938 press release by Mussolini in which some restrictions on Jewish people were suggested. An anti-Semitic press campaign intensified, with Jews blamed for high food prices and unemployment. The Fascist regime assumed an overt racist position with the Manifesto of Race, originally published as Il fascismo e i problemi della razza ("Fascism and the problems of race"), on 14 July 1938 in Il Giornale d'Italia. The Manifesto was then reprinted in August in the first issue of the scientific racist magazine La Difesa della Razza ("The Defense of Race"), endorsed by Mussolini and at the direction of Telesio Interlandi. On 5 August 1938 Mussolini issued another press release, this time acknowledging that restrictions on Jews were going to be enacted. The release noted that "segregating does not mean persecuting", but persecution had in fact begun.
The anti-Semitic metamorphosis of Fascism culminated in the racial laws of 18 September 1938. Although they did not directly threaten Jewish lives, the laws excluded Jews from public education, the military and government, and made it practically impossible for them to pursue most economic activities. Jews could not hire non-Jews. The marriage of Jews to non-Jews were also prohibited.
Julius Evola was an intellectual of war and post-war period. It is believed that Evola was the main Italian theoretician of racism during the 20th century. Evola published two systematic works on racism, including The Blood Myth (1937) and Synthesis of the Doctrine of Race (1941). Furthermore, Evola discussed the subject in a substantial number of articles in several Italian journals and magazines. Evola also introduced the 1937 edition of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, published by Giovanni Preziosi. Evola wrote:
While The Blood Myth aimed at being an impartial review of the history and latest developments of racism theories in Europe, Synthesis of the Doctrine of the Race introduced the concept of spiritual racism. This concept met with the approval of Benito Mussolini. Mussolini was looking for a theoretical justification of racism different from that of biological racism, which was mainstream in Nazi Germany. Evola's brought together several underlying themes of her thought. Among those themes were anti-Darwinism, anti-materialism and anti-reductionism. Anti-Darwinism is the concept of history as regressive, positioning the apex of civilization at the beginning of history. For Evola, race existed on three levels: body race, soul race and spiritual race. The concept was pinned to a transcendent foundation. Evola wrote: "[r]ace and caste exist in the spirit before manifesting themselves in the earthly existence. The difference comes from the top, what refers to it on earth is only a reflection, a symbol." Evola explicitly criticized the Nazi racist view, deeming them "trivial darwinism" or "divinified biologism". For Evola, the Jewish race was not meant to be discriminated for mere biological reasons. In fact, Jewishness was essentially instead a "race of the soul, an unmistakable and hereditary style of action and attitude to life." Evola's spiritual racism was more powerful than biological racism, because it also recognized Jewishness as a spiritual and cultural component which tainted what Evola recognized as the Aryan race. Despite this peculiar theoretical elaboration, Evola's overall description of Jewishness was not particularly different from the common racist stereotypes of this period.
During the Second World War, Italians engaged in ethnic cleansing. In the summer and autumn of 1942, as many as 65,000 Italian soldiers destroyed several areas of occupied Slovenia. Many areas were left almost depopulated after the killing and arrest of the residents. Between 1941 and the Grand Council's deposing of Benito Mussolini on 25 July 1943, 25,000 Slovenians (roughly 8% of the population in the Ljubljana area) were put in Italian detention camps.
In order to close Italian borders to all refugees and to expel illegal Jewish immigrants, Italian authorities complied with German requests to deport Jews in the occupied Balkans and French territories.
A pivotal event of the Jewish persecution in Italy during the war was the so-called razzia, or roundup of October 1943, in Rome. On the morning of 16 October 1943, German troops arrested as many as 1259 Jews for deportation to Nazi concentration camps. The Vatican, convents, monasteries and other Catholic homes and institutions had taken pre-emptive actions days prior to hide Jews, resulting in over four thousand escaping deportation.
Mussolini also played upon long-standing racist attitudes against Sicilians, enacting a number of laws and measures directed at anyone born in Sicily/of Sicilian descent. Regarding the treatment of Sicilians under Mussolini's regime, Count Ciano, Mussolini's son-in-law, wrote in his diaries on 4 October 1941: "The internal situation - coming apart in various places - is becoming grave in Sicily...So, then is it worse to be Sicilian than to be Jewish?"
Anti-Roma sentiment exists in Italy, and takes the form of hostility, prejudice, discrimination or racism directed at the Roma people (Gypsies or "Zingari"). There's no reliable data for the total number of Roma people living in Italy, but estimates put it between 140,000 and 170,000.
In Italy, many national and local political leaders engaged in rhetoric during 2007 and 2008 that maintained that the extraordinary rise in crime at the time was mainly a result of uncontrolled immigration of people of Roma origin from recent European Union member state Romania. National and local leaders declared their plans to expel Roma from settlements in and around major cities and to deport illegal immigrants. The mayors of Rome and Milan signed "Security Pacts" in May 2007 that "envisaged the forced eviction of up to 10,000 Romani people."
In October 2007, extraordinary anti-immigrant sentiment exploded into violence toward Romanian immigrants and Roma in general. The violence was triggered by the murder of 47-year-old Giovanna Reggiani, a naval captain’s wife, which was attributed to a Romanian immigrant of Roma origin. Reggiani was raped, beaten, left in a ditch, and died the following week. The Italian government responded with roundups of Romanian immigrants and summary expulsions of some two hundred, mostly Roma, disregarding E.U. immigration rules. According to Rome's then Mayor Walter Veltroni Romanians made up 75 percent of those who raped, stole and killed in the first seven months of the year.
In May 2008, an unnamed 16-year-old Roma Romanian girl from a different part of town was arrested for trying to snatch an unattended six-month-old baby. After that mobs in several areas around Naples attacked Roma communities, setting homes alight, and forcing hundreds of Roma to flee. The camp in Ponticelli was set on fire each month between May and July 2008.
According to a May 2008 poll 68% of Italians, wanted to see all of the country's approximately 150,000 Gypsies, many of them Italian citizens, expelled. The survey, published as mobs in Naples burned down Gypsy camps that month, revealed that the majority also wanted all Gypsy camps in Italy to be demolished.
Actions by the Lega Nord have been criticized as xenophobic or racist by several sources. Italians protested the murder of Burkina Faso native, Abdul Salam Guibre, along with racism in Italy on 20 September 2008. L'Osservatore Romano, the semi-official newspaper for the Holy See, indicated that racism played an important role in the riot in Rosarno. According to a Eurobarometer study, Italians had the third lowest level of "comfort with person of Gypsy origin as neighbour", after Austrians and Czechs.
Contemporary Italian football fans, of lower-league and top-flight teams, have been noted by foreign media for racist behaviour.
Following the 2013 nomination of Cécile Kyenge, a Congolese-born Italian immigrant, as Minister of Integration in the government of Enrico Letta, she became subject to several racial slurs by local and national politicians. One of these slurs was made by Roberto Calderoli, a prominent figure of the anti-immigration and populist party Lega Nord. Calderoli claimed that whenever he saw Minister Kyenge, an orangutan came to his mind. During a speech by Kyenge at a meeting of the Democratic Party a few days after Calderoli's slur, some members of the far-right and neo-fascist New Force threw a clump of bananas at the minister.
On 13 December 2011, an armed attack occurred in Florence. Two market traders from Senegal, 40-year-old Samb Modou, and 54-year-old Mor Diop, were killed by Gianluca Casseri, who wounded three other Senegalese traders in another market. According to Florentine prosecutor Giuseppe Quattrocchi, the killer shot himself dead as he was approached by police in a car park. The attack was racially motivated according to authorities. The attack occurred during the 2011 Liège attack, which started on the same day, at the same hour.2018 Florence shooting
On 5 March 2018, Idy Diene, a 54-year-old Senegalese immigrant, was fatally shot near the central Ponte Amerigo Vespucci in Florence, Italy. The shooter, who was identified as Roberto Pirrone, turned himself in to the police. While the police have deemed that the shooting was not racially or politically motivated, local African immigrant communities have held protests, citing the murder as prejudicial.Antisemitism in 21st-century Italy
Since World War II, antisemitic prejudice in Italy has seldom taken on aggressive forms.The ongoing political conflict between Israel and Palestine has played an important role in the development and expression of antisemitism in the 21st century, and in Italy as well. The Second Intifada, which began in late September 2000, has set in motion unexpected mechanisms, whereby traditional anti-Jewish prejudices were mixed with politically based stereotypes. In this belief system, Israeli Jews were charged with full responsibility for the fate of the peace process and with the conflict presented as embodying the struggle between good (the Palestinians) and evil (the Israeli Jews).Bjørn Thomassen
Bjørn Thomassen (born 1968, Denmark) is an anthropologist and social scientist. He is associate professor at Roskilde University in the Department of Society and Globalisation. From 2003-2012 he worked at The American University of Rome where he was Chair of the department of International Relations.Carlo Rosselli
Carlo Rosselli (16 November 1899 – 9 June 1937) was an Italian political leader, journalist, historian and anti-fascist activist, first in Italy and then abroad. He developed a theory of reformist, non-Marxist socialism inspired by the British Labour movement that he described as "liberal socialism". Rosselli founded the anti-fascist militant movement Giustizia e Libertà. Rosselli personally took part in combat in the Spanish Civil War where he served on the Republican side.Cécile Kyenge
Cécile Kashetu Kyenge (Italian pronunciation: [seˈsil ˈkjɛŋɡe]; born Kashetu Kyenge, 28 August 1964) is an Italian politician and ophthalmologist. She was the Minister for Integration in the 2013–14 Letta Cabinet. On 25 May 2014 she was elected as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP). Kyenge is of Congolese descent.
After moving to Italy in 1983 at the age of 19, she became a qualified ophthalmologist in Modena, Emilia-Romagna. She has founded an intercultural Association (DAWA) to promote mutual awareness, integration and cooperation between Italy and Africa, particularly in her country of birth, the Democratic Republic of Congo. She is also the spokesperson of the association "March First", which works to promote the rights of migrants in Italy.
In February 2013 she was elected member of the Chamber of Deputies for the Democratic Party in Emilia-Romagna. Two months later she was appointed Minister for Integration in the grand coalition government formed by Enrico Letta, becoming Italy's first black cabinet minister. She supports the introduction of a Jus soli law to grant citizenship to children of immigrants born on Italian soil.Death of Cristina and Violetta Djeordsevic
Cristina and Violetta Djeordsevic or Ebrehmovich were Italian Roma sisters aged 13 and 11 who drowned in the sea at the public beach at Torregaveta in the Metropolitan City of Naples on 19 July 2008. News media circulated photographs of other beach users apparently continuing with their leisure activities indifferent to the nearby bodies of the girls partially covered by beach towels. Commentators interpreted this as symbolising widespread anti-Roma sentiment in Italy.Environmental inequality in Europe
Environmental racism is a term used by Vincze (2013) for "the practice of environmental injustice within a racialized context", in which "socially marginalized communities and minority groups" are subjected to disproportionate exposure of environmental hazards, denial of access to sources of ecological sustenance such as clean air, water, and natural resources, or infringement of environmentally related human rights.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, environmental justice is "the fair treatment for people of all races, cultures, and incomes, regarding the development of environmental laws, regulations and policies".
As applied to Western Europe, patterns of "environmental racism" have been postulated in particular toward Romani communities.
According to Trehan and Kocze (2009), "EU accession for the post-socialist countries has resulted in a de facto centre and periphery within Europe itself, thus exacerbating the already marginal economic and political position of Roma in Europe whose communities continue to subsist as internal colonies within Europe." This peripheral position, in which segregated Romani settlements and their inhabitants become viewed as de-territorialized zones "beyond the pale" of government responsibility and European Union citizenship, has been identified by some scholars as an aggravating factor in the prevalence of environmental hazards (such as proximity to industrial facilities and illegal or toxic waste dumps). This practice has been identified in relation to the lack of basic services such as water, housing, sanitation and access to education affecting marginalized Romani communities.Igiaba Scego
Igiaba Scego is an Italian writer, journalist, and activist (born 20 March 1974 in Rome) of Somali origin.Index of Italy-related articles
The following is an alphabetical list of articles related to Italy.Italian Fascism
Italian Fascism (Italian: fascismo italiano), also known as Classical Fascism or simply Fascism, is the original fascist ideology as developed in Italy. The ideology is associated with a series of three political parties led by Benito Mussolini, namely the Revolutionary Fascist Party (PFR) founded in 1915, the succeeding National Fascist Party (PNF) which was renamed at the Third Fascist Congress on 7–10 November 1921 and ruled the Kingdom of Italy from 1922 until 1943 and the Republican Fascist Party that ruled the Italian Social Republic from 1943 to 1945. Italian Fascism is also associated with the post-war Italian Social Movement and subsequent Italian neo-fascist movements.
Italian Fascism was rooted in Italian nationalism, national syndicalism, revolutionary nationalism and the desire to restore and expand Italian territories, which Italian Fascists deemed necessary for a nation to assert its superiority and strength and to avoid succumbing to decay. Italian Fascists also claimed that modern Italy is the heir to ancient Rome and its legacy and historically supported the creation of an Italian Empire to provide spazio vitale ("living space") for colonization by Italian settlers and to establish control over the Mediterranean Sea.Italian Fascism promoted a corporatist economic system whereby employer and employee syndicates are linked together in associations to collectively represent the nation's economic producers and work alongside the state to set national economic policy. This economic system intended to resolve class conflict through collaboration between the classes.Italian Fascism opposed liberalism, especially classical liberalism that Mussolini and Fascist leaders denounced as "the debacle of individualism", but rather than seeking a reactionary restoration of the pre-French Revolutionary world which it considered to have been flawed, it had a forward-looking direction. Fascism was opposed to Marxist socialism because of its typical opposition to nationalism, but it was also opposed to the reactionary conservatism developed by Joseph de Maistre. It believed the success of Italian nationalism required respect for tradition and a clear sense of a shared past among the Italian people, alongside a commitment to a modernised Italy.While Fascism in Italy did not initially espouse the explicit Nordicism and antisemitism inherent to Nazi ideology, racist overtones were present in Fascist thought and policies from the beginning of Fascist rule of Italy. As Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany grew politically closer in the latter half of the 1930s, Italian laws and policies became explicitly antisemitic, including the passage of the Italian Racial Laws. When the Fascists were in power, they persecuted the Greek speakers in Italy.Italian Fascism and racism
Fascist Italy was not officially racist, unlike its World War II Axis partner Nazi Germany. Its leader Benito Mussolini had contrasting views on the importance of race throughout his life, at times he spoke of alarm about the possible extinction of white people, while at other times he denied the theory of race. Consolidation of gained territory in the northeast of Italy led to the state-sanctioned persecution and ethnic cleansing of Slovenes. By 1938, Mussolini supported racism, as evidenced by his endorsement of the “Manifesto on Race,” which says in its seventh point that “it is time that Italians proclaim themselves to be openly racist.”James Walston
James Walston (1949 – 12 May 2014) was a professor of international relations at The American University of Rome (AUR), specialising in Italian politics and modern history. He was chair of the AUR's Department of International Relations from 2002 to 2008. In 2008 he started the Center for Research on Racism in Italy together with Clough Marinaro. In 1997, he became the first EU citizen to stand for election to the Rome City CouncilLa Cagoule
La Cagoule (The Cowl, press nickname coined by the Action Française nationalist Maurice Pujo), officially called Comité secret d'action révolutionnaire (Secret Committee of Revolutionary Action), was a French fascist-leaning and anti-communist terrorist group that used violence to promote its activities from 1935 to 1941.
It developed to overthrow the French Third Republic, led by the Popular Front government, an alliance of left-wing groups. La Cagoule was founded by Eugène Deloncle. Among others, the founder of the cosmetics company L'Oréal, Eugène Schueller, bankrolled the clandestine movement.
The group performed assassinations, bombings, sabotage of armaments, and other violent activities, some intended to cast suspicion on communists and add to political instability. Planning a November 1937 overthrow of the government, La Cagoule was infiltrated by the police, and the national government arrested and imprisoned about 70 men. At the outbreak of World War II, the government released the men to fight in the French Army. Some supported other right-wing organizations and participated in the Vichy government; others joined the Free French of Charles de Gaulle. It was not until 1948 that the government tried surviving members for the charges of 1937.Negro
In the English language, Negro (plural Negroes) is a term historically used to denote persons considered to be of Negroid heritage. The term can be construed as offensive, inoffensive, or completely neutral, largely depending on the region and/or country where it is used. It has various equivalents in other languages of Europe. From the latest United States census figures, approximately 36,000 Americans identify their ethnicity as "negro".Outline of Italy
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to Italy:
Italy – unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe, located primarily upon the Italian Peninsula. It is where Ancient Rome originated as a small agricultural community about the 8th century BC, which spread over the course of centuries into the colossal Roman empire, encompassing the whole Mediterranean Sea and merging the Ancient Greek and Roman cultures into one civilization. This civilization was so influential that parts of it survive in modern law, administration, philosophy and arts, providing the groundwork that the Western world is based upon.Ramona Badescu
Ramona Bădescu (Romanian pronunciation: [raˈmona bəˈdesku]; born 29 November 1968) is a Romanian-born Italian actress, singer, model, and politician. In 2008 Bădescu joined the list of council candidates supporting Gianni Alemanno for Mayor of Rome, but was not successful. However Alemanno was elected mayor and subsequently appointed her his Counsellor for the Romanian Community's Integration.Walter Veltroni
Walter Veltroni (Italian pronunciation: [ˈvalter velˈtroːni]; born 3 July 1955) is an Italian writer, journalist, and politician, who served as the first leader of the Democratic Party within the centre-left opposition, until his resignation on 17 February 2009. He served as Mayor of Rome from June 2001 to February 2008.
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