Hindus have strongly objected to French nationalist politician Jean-Marie Le Pen reportedly implying Roma (Gypsies) were thieves in a recent speech in western France.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, argued that it was a blatant defamation of the entire community of about 15-million European Roma which should not be acceptable in 21st century Europe which boasts of its human rights record. It simply smacked of xenophobia and racism against a community which had been around in Europe since ninth century CE.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, urged Le Pen to show some maturity and publicly apologize for his comments about Roma. It was simply inhuman to devastate the lives of voiceless Roma just to gain political mileage.
Recently, vigilantes reportedly forcibly evicted Roma and burned their settlement in Marseille in southern France. The new socialist government headed by President Francois Hollande seemed to have adopted the similar much-criticized policy of crackdown on Roma settlements and deporting the poor inhabitants which was the same policy as the previous conservative government of President Nicolas Sarkozy, Rajan Zed argued.
Instead of unleashing repression, France and Europe needed to work on social inclusion and rehabilitation of Roma communities. What was more baffling that even religious elite of France had not come out openly against this unjust crackdown on poor Roma while the religions clearly told us to help the helpless, Zed noted.
Europe’s most persecuted and discriminated community, Roma were reportedly facing apartheid conditions in Europe. Roma reportedly regularly encountered social exclusion, racism, substandard education, hostility, joblessness, rampant illness, inadequate housing, lower life expectancy, unrest, living on desperate margins, stereotypes, mistrust, rights violations, discrimination, marginalization, appalling living conditions, prejudice, human rights abuse, etc., Rajan Zed pointed out.