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Roma are a social rather than an ethnic category

28 October 2013 / 18:10:11  GRReporter
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On the one hand this is due to the fact that they find it difficult to understand how the state institutions operate. And secondly, this is due to the clientelism and protectionism that are widespread in these communities and involve people who are promising the Roma that they would tackle all their issues unsettled with the institutions and who are other Roma with easier access to them. This shows that, among the Roma themselves, there are many different categories and that, to a greater extent, other Roma exploit the weakest ones. Indicative of this is the case of the granting of preferential housing loans relating to the settlement of the Roma. Community members cheated other Roma who trusted them to do the paperwork, by obtaining their loans and disappearing afterwards. Do not forget that people who are of similar socio-economic status are always looking for illegal ways to survive. But we should not go to extremes and call all Roma scammers. We have too many examples of non-Roma people who are in the public administration, committing huge frauds.

According to commentators, this is mostly due to the fact that the Roma are not educated. What is your comment?

School is not enough. Educating a child has always been something relatively "expensive". It takes time to go to school but a 15-year Roma child is obliged to work to survive simply because his family has no means.

However, there is something else and the examples are very specific. For example, I have recently asked a Roma man about his nephew, who had graduated from an agronomy school. He told me that he had graduated with success and when I asked him what he was doing now, he said, "He is selling skewers at fairs as he did before." When I asked him "Why", he replied, "Well, schoolmaster, would you hire a gypsy as an agronomist for your fields?"

So it is not just school. The question is how you can utilize this knowledge afterwards. Especially at this time, other people who are not Roma cannot find a way to survive. This is a broader problem.

What could be the solution in your opinion?

Society does not want to deal with this problem because this would give rise to questions like "What is the reason for poverty and social inequality?", "What should be the difference between the poorest and richest?", "Are these issues to be decided at the central level or not?" No society wants to discuss these topics nowadays. The only thing that is being done is controlling things so as to prevent the situation from becoming "explosive".

After arriving in the Balkans in the period 10th - 14th century, the Roma adopted the habits and culture of the local communities, with which they had mingled in some cases. Thus, the Roma who have settled in the western part of the Balkans speak the local languages ​​and they are Slavic Christians. In the eastern part of the peninsula, in the part of Thrace, which is divided between Greece and Bulgaria, the Roma are Muslims and speak Turkish. They no longer identify themselves as Roma but as the community of the place where they have settled.

The majority of the Roma who are living a nomadic life in Greece are Christians and the Muslims among them are few. I could describe them as very religious. During the Assumption, the vast majority of worshipers in the temple of the Virgin of Tinos are Roma. The same happens in other places of worship as well. Of course, this religiosity is seen through the prism of their traditional beliefs. It is worth noting that there are Roma priests too. I know two Roma men who have been appointed in churches of Roma communities in the regions of Thrace and the Peloponnese.

Tags: SocietyRomaIntegrationSocial exclusion
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