Hindus and Jews have expressed shock at the reported forcible eviction of Roma (Gypsies) and burning of their settlement in Marseille (southern France) suburb by vigilantes.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed; and Rabbi ElizaBeth W. Beyer, a prominent Jewish leader in western USA; in a joint statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that it was unfortunate that within the clear view of French government, helpless Roma were maltreated, their settlement dismantled and they were forced into homelessness.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, and Rabbi Beyer asked for provision of immediate compensation to thus affected Roma and alternative accommodation for them.
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 and ElizaBeth Beyer argued.
Zed and Beyer urged the Council of Europe and European Parliament to urgently intervene and halt Hollande from demolishing Roma settlements. It was simply inhuman to devastate the lives of voiceless Roma just to gain political mileage.
Rajan Zed and Rabbi Beyer questioned whether these ethnically and racially targeted evictions were fair and just according to European Union laws which boasted of its human rights record. It smacked of xenophobia and racism. Instead of unleashing repression, France and Europe needed to work on social inclusion and rehabilitation of Roma communities, which were residents of Europe since about ninth century CE and now number around 15 million.
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 and Beyer noted.
According to reports, few dozen Roma people were forced out of this camp by a group of vigilantes who also burnt down their camp, furniture and other items, taking the law in their own hands after forewarning the authorities and to date no arrests had been made. Why did the authorities not protect Roma when they had information of the eviction beforehand, Rajan Zed and ElizaBeth Beyer asked.
Europe’s most persecuted and discriminated community, Roma are reportedly facing apartheid conditions in Europe. Roma reportedly regularly encounter 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., Zed and Rabbi Beyer point out.