December 14, 2009

Religious leaders urge EU to fight anti-Roma discrimination

by David Masters

Jewish and Hindu leaders have jointly expressed their shock at the results of an European Union (EU) survey showing widespread discrimination against the Roma people.

The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights survey found that every second Roma has been the victim of discrimination.

Rabbi Jonathan B. Freirich, a prominent Jewish leader in the USA, and Rajan Zed, Hindu statesman, said the Roma apartheid in Europe still continues, openly and blatantly.

They urged the EU and the United Nations to stop acting as silent spectators and to intervene now to end discrimination.

Roma people who are discriminated against face an average of 11 incidents of discrimination every year, the survey found.

Two thirds (66%-92%) of Roma do not report discrimination because they believe “nothing would happen or change”.

Nearly nine in ten (86%) could not name an organisation who would assist them in fighting discrimination, while seven in ten (69%) said ethnic and immigrant discrimination is widespread in Europe.

Discrimination faced by the Roma people includes racism, social exclusion, substandard education, hostility, inadequate housing, unrest, language barriers, stereotypes, rights violations, and joblessness.

Roma people are known to have lived in Europe since the ninth century AD.

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