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August 8, 2022

Roma-hate messages in Bucharest draw strong response by authorities, WB

Several members of the government, presidential advisor Laurentiu Stefan and president of the National Council for the Combat of Discrimination Asztalos Csaba Ferenc declared their shock at the racist messages written Friday night on a tent in downtown Bucharest serving as venue for the celebration of the International Romani Day.

The officials gathered on Saturday in front of the tent raised near the building of the University, to speak against racism and about potential measures to dissuade such gestures in the future.

Minister of Justice Raluca Pruna, wearing a T-shirt that read “Down with racism,” said: “In my capacity as Minister of Justice, I very much regret having to stand here in front of a tent with a message reading ‘Death to the Gypsies’. That is the most violent form of a [message]. I also regret that in a country where such forms of racial violence are still rare, the few existing are not firmly combated and I think that having such a message written in the center of the capital city of a European member country in 2016 must oblige the state to take action and move towards the exemplary punishment of those who – be it just for the sake of showing off – cause us such serious harm.”

In his turn, presidential advisor Laurentiu Stefan said that President Iohannis is “appalled” by what happened.

“What happened here sends a message that education must do more. (…) I hope we don’t see any more such events,” said Minister of Education Adrian Curaj, while Minister of European Funds Aura Raducu said that “social cohesion is needed” to combat such manifestations.

“The answer to art and culture was racism,” said Ciprian Necula, Secretary of State with the Ministry of European Funds and representative of the National Contact Point for the Roma within the respective ministry.

Participating in the event that protested racism were also Minister for Public Consultation and Civic Dialogue Violeta Alexandru, Secretary of State with the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Protection and the Elderly Valeriu Nicolae, director of the National Roma Culture Center Mihai Neacsu, Bucharest interim Razvan Sava.

According to Mihai Neacsu, cultural events were organized Friday night and on Saturday morning at around 3:00 a.m. a group of 12 – 15 young people threw stones at the scene and hastily sprayed racist messages on the tent.

World Bank representatives too voiced regret at the hateful overnight acts targeted at the Roma community, slamming them in a release as an “aggression against the Roma community and an act of discrimination that is incompatible with European basic human rights values.”

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