Thursday, November 26, 2009

Europe’s Last Remaining Wall

It's a wall that was started 500 years ago. It's invisible. It is the
wall that separates Europe from her largest minority –the Gypsy people.
Ever since they first set foot on European soil, they were stripped,
layer after layer, of the essence of their harmonious culture – the
freedom to travel, which in turn curtailed the plying of their trades,
the performing of their ancient crafts and the display of their talents
in music and dance, their art.

Increasingly they were pushed into the shadows of Europe's many
cultures, without in return according them the most basic human rights.
They received no schooling to adjust to cultures that were foreign to
them. They were not protected by the prevailing laws of the land. Often
their only means of survival was theft and other petty crimes. This in
turn, reinforced the mediaeval perception of the Gypsy as thief, as
lazy, as untrustworthy. Contrary to many racist misconceptions, Roma are
not criminal by nature, even the Nazis admitted there was no crime among
nomadic Gypsies. Crime among Roma themselves is extremely rare, and
severely condemned and punished by their own.

The time has come for the new United Europe to tear down this last
remaining wall, give the Romani culture the same respect it offers all
other European cultures, reverse this trend of pushing the Roma into
abject poverty and thereby petty crimes in order to survive. The Roma
are an intelligent, peace-loving people. Many have long since integrated
into the majority population. After centuries of marginalization, abuse
and humiliation, the rest of them, the poorest, the most vulnerable
deserve to be helped with patience, education, love and understanding to
join the dignity and right to a decent life accorded to all other

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

By Criticizing Madonna For Not Doing Enough, Are We Looking A Gift Horse In The Mouth?

"Welcoming Madonna for supporting Roma people, Hindus have urged her to
'wholeheartedly' undertake Roma cause and do substantially more than
just donating a used pair of shoes for Roma charity." [Roma Daily News],
Friday, November 6, 2009.

It is not about the $ 16,600 Modanna raised for Roma children by
auctioning a pair of her shoes, it is about the fact that Madonna did
what few do – rebel openly against the centuries-long injustice and
inhumanity committed against Europe's Roma people. As those of us, who
for decades now have tried to raise awareness to the continued
persecution and/or marginalization, know – the majority of non-Gypsies
either doesn't care, or looks the other way. I have no idea whether
Madonna was or is a Gypsy activist, or whether she is simply a human
being who cares and has the guts to make her feelings known. To me the
question is not, should the famous pop-star do more, but rather how do
we attract more people like her?