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October 4, 2022

Norwich people show their support for the Romanian owners of the fire attacked Village Shop

Over a hundred persons gathered on Saturday in Norwich to express their solidarity with the Romanian family whose shop was damaged by arson, the Eastern Daily Press informs on its website.

“It has been a fantastic turnout and really heartening to see so many people here,” said protest organiser Jan McLachlan, secretary of the Norwich People’s Assembly.

“It is really important that we stand together to show people from the migrant community in Norwich that they are welcome here.”

Andreea Abraham, the shop owner’s 23-year-old daughter, stated that she was overwhelmed by the community’s support.

“I thought there was going to be maybe 10 or 20 people here today,” she said. “But when I saw all the people here it was amazing. I can’t believe it. It is a really good thing, not just for us, but for everyone. It is really important to be united.”

The police are investigating a possible hate crime, after a Romanian food shop in Norwich was destroyed by fire on Friday, Metro daily informs on its website.

The police are investigating the causes of a fire that damaged a Romanian food store in Norwich. The investigation is ongoing, but it is believed to have been arson.

A brick appears to have been thrown through the window of The Village Shop, on Magdalen Street, after which a fire started inside.

The owner of the shop stated: “I was terrified, I was shaking. We know someone did this on purpose but we haven’t had any trouble in the past.”

Asked whether this could be related to the result of the referendum on United Kingdom’s exit from the EU, she stated: “Yes, what can we expect. Everyone thinks it is to do with the vote.”


Locals collect over GBP 27,000 for shop owners


The attack that should have frightened them has turned the Romanian family into a target of generosity for the community they live in. In less than two days, the shop has been rebuilt because locals did not allow themselves to be intimidated and instead of marginalising them they helped the Romanians with all they could. They cleaned up the store and launched a crowdfunding campaign that has so far collected GBP 27,000.

“This is something extremely unusual. You wonder whether this was a stupid drunkard or someone with other motives. We are simply disgusted with what happened, and our first thought was: how can we be of help?” said Eric Kirk, chairman of the Magdalen Street Traders Association.

“I saw on the news what happened and I found it disgusting. I felt it was normal to come here and see whether the shop owners are all right and whether I can help them with anything,” Mary Lee, one of the dozens of volunteers that helped rebuild the shop, stated.

The Romanian owners and employees were overwhelmed by the generosity of fellow Norwich citizens. Customers, neighbours as well as people that had never heard of them came to lend a hand.

“I was shocked, I couldn’t believe it. Everyone came to help, offering coffee, tea, asking me whether I need anything, a place to sleep, clothing, everyone was kind and friendly,” store employee Maria Purgea said.

And those who did not make it to the store made donations. GBP 27,000 was raised in less than a day, money that will help the Romanians get their business up and running again. The initiators of the fundraiser had planned to raise GBP 500. 2,100 persons donated GBP 26,400 in less than 24 hours.

“The people that run this shop are friendly and hard working. My wife, who is originally from Bucharest, and I love the authentic Romanian food from there. Please contact us and we will donate our time, to help put the shop back in order by way of free labour,” Glyn Thomas wrote on the crowdfunding webpage.

“My deepest sympathies to Maria, I’m a local musician and I’d like to offer to help raise some cash via a gig if it wouldn’t be stepping on anyone’s toes,” John Christophers wrote.

The Romanians were also overwhelmed by messages of support. The panel covering the shattered window was covered with messages encouraging the Romanians to remain in the city. “You are welcome,” “we’re sorry you are going through this” and “we’re by your side” were just some of the messages of support. Police is yet to identify the perpetrators, nor did they want to point out whether the incident is being investigated as a xenophobic attack. What is certain is that after the Brexit referendum numerous European immigrants have become the targets of physical and verbal aggressions.


MAE requests British authorities prevent any intensification of hostile actions against Romanian citizens


The Romanian Foreign Ministry (MAE) has requested that British authorities clarify the situation and prevent any intensification of tensions or any other hostile acts towards Romanian citizens in the United Kingdom, after a shop belonging to Romanian citizens was torched on the night of July 8 in Norwich.

“MAE condemns any form of extremist or discriminatory manifestation towards Romanian citizens. A shop belonging to Romanian citizens was torched on the night of July 8 in Norwich, United Kingdom. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has in attention this isolated incident, which may be considered as being discriminatory in nature. In this sense, through the Romanian Embassy in London, MAE has requested that British authorities clarify the situation and prevent any intensification of tensions or any other hostile acts towards Romanian citizens in the United Kingdom,” MAE informs through a release remitted on Saturday to Agerpres.

According to the quoted source, the Romanian state wishes to prevent, through cooperation with British authorities, an eventual escalation of intimidation actions against Romanian citizens and urges Romanian citizens who know of such incidents to inform both the competent British authorities, as well as the Romanian Embassy in London. MAE addresses, also, thanks to the business community in Norwich which has shown solidarity and has been close to the Romanian family affected by the incident.


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