Europe Push Against Gypsies
May Set Dawn of New Diaspora
Em France,police forced some 160 of them out of a Marseille camp, in anticipation of the coming presidential elections.
In the U.K., 80 families have been fighting eviction from the Basildon district’s Dale Farms for almost a year now.
Elsewhere in Europe, the Romanies, or Gypsies, or British Travelers remain vilified and marginalized as they have been since their origin, which can be traced back to the Indian diaspora in the tenth century.
There’s something about these “Egyptians” and their nomadic lifestyle that strikes deep-seated suspicions and fear at heart of the mainstream of the European society.
HIDE THE SILVERWARE
The latest effort in France to do away with the foreign-born Roma is in line with President Sarkozy’s reelection campaign theme, centered on security.
As an impoverished group, insulated from the society at large, they’re utterly vulnerable to widespread racism, prejudice, and police brutality.
Even within other less-privileged groups, they’re considered untrustworthy, when not being accused of thievery and criminal behavior, with or without proof.
But France is but one of the nations sharing the euro that decided that they’d no longer tolerate the sprawling and secretive groups of outcasts in their midst.
Italy, Ireland, even Hungary and Romania, once thought as their place of origin and self haven, have been engaged into systematic efforts to rid them from their lands.
And unlike other minorities, Romanies have had very few groups raising their voices on their behalf, apart from organizations fighting for general immigrant rights.
THE ‘CIVILIZED’ KIND
The British Travelers of Basildon, who claim a misguided “blood purity” line, hardly acknowledge that it only added another tragic layer of separation between them and everyone else.
With their immaculate trailers and legitimate furniture-selling businesses, the Dale Farms community is not just facing prejudice from the British society.
They’re also derided by their European kin and, in fact, share very few lifestyle traits with them, except perhaps their common “otherness.”
What has historically helped the Travellers in England, their quasi-acceptance at least in the outskirts of British society, is no longer current, given the renewed push for their eviction from the Basildon Council.
And the fact that for centuries they’ve been set apart from the continental Roma only adds to their woes. Not even the wisest fortune-teller among them could tell what will come next.