Italy,  Roma

Rape claim sparks arson attack on the Roma in Turin

Recently I blogged about a vigilante attack on the Roma community in Bulgaria. A few days ago a similar incident, reported in the Guardian, took place in Turin.  Hundreds of residents took to the streets after they heard that a young girl had been raped by two Roma men.

A splinter group of around 50 residents then marched towards a nearby camp where they reportedly called for all women and children to leave before throwing firecrackers and setting fire to caravans, shacks and cars.

Police officers evacuated the camp moments before the group arrived and no injuries were reported, but fire crews were unable to prevent the camp being destroyed.

It turned out that the girl (who was frightened of having her consensual sexual relationship discovered by extremely strict parents) had been lying – no such attack took place:

The girl’s brother, who initially backed her story, arrived with police as the flames grew to announce his sister had confessed to inventing the episode, but his appeal to call off the attack came too late.

It could be argued that the fact that the rape story was untrue shouldn’t be emphasised too much.  The incident in Bulgaria was set off by a violent crime which was committed by a Roma man.   That doesn’t excuse the collective punishment.  But it’s quite telling that the girl dreamt up this story, and reflects the fact that the Roma are convenient scapegoats – and in a time of economic and political uncertainty are thus increasingly likely to be victims of violence and discrimination.

In this post, and more explicitly in the first comment, it is suggested that the Partito Democratico was involved in the initial vigil/protest (not the attack) at some level. I can find no clear evidence for this though, so any further information would be welcome.