Recently in the French news, which spread to the international news, was a graphic photo of a 15 year old Roma boy beaten up, stuffed in a shopping cart and left for dead on the outskirts of Paris. A neighbor who found him took photos to document his condition brought him to the hospital. It turns out that a gang of 20 young people wearing ski masks beat this Roma boy up. The pictures are horrific. People were asking how could this happen. Francois Hollande got on the news deploring the incident. But no one was asking why. The racism against Gypsies or Roma in France and throughout Europe is quiet and not talked about. It’s a given.
Of course it depends on who you talk to and it’s a complicated issue. For several years the French police have worked with the Romanian government to bring in Romanian police. These police are taught French and deputized to work in Paris.
But these are the Eastern European Gypsies, the Roma who are from Albania, former Yugoslavia, Romania who after the EU opened the borders pass freely
through Europe. Freely is a loose term.
It turns out this boy who is still in a coma, is 17 not 15, he's recently arrived from Romania to be with his step-family and was known to have psychiatric problems.
Gypsies are known by different names in different countries - Scinti in Germany, Gitane in Spain, Gitano in Italy and the French born are called Manouches and Gens de Voyage. By French born I mean those born in France who have citizenship and may have lived there for years, in semi-nomadic lifestyles or more sedentary conditions, for generations. Those are the ones who feature in my next book.
What do you think of when you hear Gypsy or Roma in Europe?
Chicken thieves, Pickpockets in the Metro, musicians, workers at the carnivals, circus, horse traders, exotic dancers, caners at the market?
But it’s a complicated issue
Cara - Tuesday