Comment: The racism and the prejudice that the Roma minority face throughout Europe is a shameful reality of our times. It is a grim reminder of the fate that some immigrant groups and their descendants can face in this part of the world.
One of the matters that has always surprised me about racism is that it is one of the worse forms of cowardice because you are attacking in many cases the most defenseless members of society.
The violent attacks against the Roma in Hungary and now in the Czech Republic are clear examples that Europe still has a long way to go to resolve its serious ethnic issues. Such violence in the Czech Republic is being perpetrated by neo-Nazi groups like the DSSS.
There are an estimated 9 million Romany living in Europe today. Most of them (1.9 million) live in Romania.
A couple of week a Roma couple that I’ve known for many years dropped by for a cup of coffee at our home. Whenever we meet we exchange a few words about their situation in Finland. The man was very candid when I asked him why the Roma in Finland didn’t get more invovled in politics. “We have learned that lying low and being quiet is the best defense against our enemies,” he said.
This tactic does not appear to be working too well in countries like the Czech Republic, Hungary and others.
Finnish authorities have not done a good job in dealing with Eastern European Roma either that have temporarily moved to our country.
For weeks there have been riots between Czech locals and newly settled Roma in northern Bohemia. What started as a series of brutal but isolated fights has grown into a popular movement in small towns along the eastern German border. Right-wing extremists have fanned the hatred.