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EU Calls Italian Plan To Fingerprint Roma 'Unacceptable'

Roma took to the streets to protest the Italian government's move to fingerprint them in an effort to cut down on crime.

In Italy, hundreds of people took to the streets of Rome on July 7 to protest a controversial plan by the Italian government to fingerprint thousands of Roma living in camps across the country.

The demonstration was organized by the ARCI cultural association, which has called the move "an act of discrimination and of persecution." The group encouraged participants to give their own fingerprints in a petition called the "imprint of racism."

A child participates in a protest against Roma fingerprinting.
On June 26, Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni announced that the fingerprinting would be carried out by police and in cooperation with the Red Cross in an effort to prevent crime and identify illegal immigrants for expulsion.

Maroni said children would be fingerprinted "to prevent phenomena such as begging."

European Union lawmakers condemned the move, calling instead for an EU-wide policy that would help integrate Roma into mainstream society.

EU Social Affairs Commissioner Vladimir Spidla, the bloc's top antidiscrimination official, told parliamentarians that fingerprinting members of one ethnic group is "not acceptable" under EU law.

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