Roma Foundation Urges German Institutions to Combat Antiziganism like They Tackled Anti-Semitism

Society | June 21, 2024, Friday // 16:45|  views

Responding to fresh data recording a doubling of attacks on Sinti and Roma in Germany, the Roma Foundation for Europe has called on German public institutions to combat Antiziganism (anti-Romani sentiment) by following similar measures that were used to counter anti-Jewish sentiment in the post-war period. 

 

According to the Antiziganism Reporting and Information Center (MIA)— a federal data tracking agency — the number of attacks on Sinti and Roma registered in Germany nearly doubled in 2023, to 1,233 — up from 621 in 2022. In all, authorities recorded 50 violent attacks, 10 of which were characterised by "extreme violence," 46 threats of violence, and 27 instances of property damage. Evidence of neo-Nazi motivation was found in 89 cases. Three of the ten "extremely violent" incidents documented in the 2023 index involved police; and in one, the use of police dogs on handcuffed detainees.

 

Zejlko Jovanovic, President of the Roma Foundation for Europe blamed the deep-rooted nature of prejudice against Roma and Sinti for the increase in racist attacks. He called for an urgent need for systemic change: “Centuries of prejudice and a lack of political will for change have made anti-Roma rhetoric far too common and socially acceptable. Beyond enforcing systemic controls that penalise racist and violent behaviour against Sinti and Roma by the police or military, it will take a larger response from society and public institutions to combat Antiziganism—similar to efforts to rid the country of its anti-Jewish sentiment after the Second World War.”

 

The study found discrimination most frequently occurred in homes, schools, and government agencies. Roma monuments and graves have often been targeted — with swastikas recently painted on the home of a Holocaust survivor, for instance — and racist chants and incitement are common. 

 

Jovanovic stressed the critical role of the media, universities and other public and civic institutions in combating Antiziganism. He said: “Media, universities, schools and other public and civic institutions that shape public opinion need to make it clear that hatred and anti-Roma rhetoric will not be tolerated. Otherwise, incidences of discrimination and violence will continue to rise”

 

To address the anti-Roma rhetoric and discrimination, governments should invest in Roma culture, Roma voters and entrepreneurs, explained Jovanovic. “Not only will this help the Roma communities to live up to their potential but also have the potential to strengthen Europe’s economy and democracy as a whole - whereas neglecting Roma communities further weakens economic strength, its political stability, its social cohesion, its credibility and its global competitiveness.”

 

 

About Roma Foundation for Europe

 

 

 

The Roma Foundation for Europe works to build an ecosystem based on the talent, wisdom, strength, competence and resilience of the Roma as a collective counterforce to racism, economic deprivation, political exclusion and cultural subjugation. They aim to combine the potential of Roma communities, both as voters and as a workforce, with the voices of Roma advocates, supportive allies and influential friends.

 

 

 

Their ambition, however, extends beyond the Roma context. Europe’s Roma have a remarkable history of adaptability and entrepreneurship, despite enduring adversity ranging from medieval persecution to the genocide to contemporary violence. Because they have felt systemic problems earlier and more deeply than the non-Roma population, they see Roma as catalysts for solutions to wider challenges. They therefore work to develop solutions for Roma that can be scaled up and, in turn, help solve the immense challenges Europe faces with the economy, politics, racism, culture and identity.

 

 

 

The Roma Foundation for Europe, with its headquarters in Brussels and teams in Berlin, Strasbourg, Belgrade, Bucharest and Skopje, is an advocacy-oriented foundation equipped with a Roma-led vision, strategy and expertise.

 

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Tags: Roma, Antiziganism, German, anti-Semitism

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