ROME • An Italian boy who confronted far-right activists amid violent protests last Tuesday against the Roma minority has been lauded across the country.
The 15-year-old boy, known only as Simone, spoke up in defence of minorities as residents and far-right activists protested on the streets of Torre Maura, east of Rome, against housing some 70 Roma people in the area.
Simone raised his hand to intervene as one of the leaders of the neo-fascist CasaPound party was telling reporters why local residents do not want the Roma minority around, The Guardian reported on its website last Friday.
Simone said, as quoted by the newspaper: "I don't think like you.
"What you are doing here in Torre Maura is exploiting the anger of the people. You turn this anger into votes, for your interests."
His comments were filmed, and the video went viral around the country and was picked up by the media.
Simone said, as reported by The Guardian: "This thing of always going against minorities is not okay with me. When you then talk about European funds to invest in the neighbourhood, I think those funds must be spent on everyone.
"No one should be left behind. Neither the Italians, nor the Roma, nor the Africans should be abandoned."
Meanwhile, the Italian judicial authorities said that they have opened a probe after some 200 Rome residents and neo-fascists torched bins and shouted racist abuse at Roma families being temporarily housed in their neighbourhood, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported.
The situation in Torre Maura degenerated last Tuesday night when the 70 Roma, including 30 children, were brought to be housed in a municipal building before a permanent home could be found.
Some residents took to the streets to protest and were rapidly joined by activists from far-right groups CasaPound and Forza Nuova.
Protesters set fire to the bins and trampled on food that had been provided for the Roma families, while hurling racist abuse, Italian media reported last Thursday.
Despite Roma making up at most 0.3 per cent of Italy's population, they can be subject to extreme hostility from the general public.
The people living in Roma camps are often blamed for a variety of petty crimes like pick-pocketing, copper theft and break-ins, AFP said.