Italian right-wing leader says Facebook blocked his personal page for using the word ‘gypsy’

(Reuters) – Matteo Salvini, leader of Italy’s anti-immigration Northern League party, said on Thursday Facebook had blocked his personal page for 24 hours because he used the word “gypsy” in posts.

Salvini, who is trying to establish himself as a contender to lead Italy’s fractured opposition against center-left premier Matteo Renzi, frequently lambasts foreigners in an appeal to anti-immigrant sentiment which has grown during three years of economic recession and stagnation…

…Once a junior partner in several governments headed by former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, the League’s popularity had steadily diminished until Salvini took over in 2013.

Its support has more than doubled since, but a poll released by research firm EMG this week showed support recently slipping for both the party and Salvini himself. Another poll by the Piepoli institute showed the party’s popularity had stabilized.

In a televised interview earlier this week, Salvini said camps housing Roma people, mainly from Eastern Europe, that occupy the peripheries of Italian cities including Rome, should be razed.