Czech MP says Roma "don't go to work" and are "parasites on our social system"
"A certain group of inhabitants doesn't go to work and are parasites on our social system, and if they are poorly integrated and in the majority [locally], then residents who are doing their best to uphold our standards and meet their work obligations are not absolutely understood by that group and are oppressed by them," Czech MP Radka Maxová (ANO) said during a discussion program broadcast by Czech Radio Plus on the evening of 12 September. The topic of the discussion was supposed to be the remarks made by Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babiš, who heads the ANO movement, about the former concentration camp for Romani people at Lety by Písek and about the situation in socially excluded localities.
"I don't want us to hide behind ambiguities here. We are talking, here and now, about Romani people - or at least Andrej Babiš was not ambiguous about that. In this context, I would like to point out that social exclusion actually does not affect all Romani people here, just one-third of them. Also, it affects many more non-Romani people - just as unemployment, for example, in Varnsdorf, actually is not just a Romani problem," responded Saša Uhlová, a journalist with the online news server Deník referendum who has a degree in Romani Studies.
The MP said she believed the Finance Minister had apparently been startled by the situation of the residential hotels and excluded localities that he saw during his visit to Varnsdorf. "There is no auditing - we have not succeeded in getting information out of the Prime Minister about how many Romani people we have managed to include, how many audits there have been, and how efficient the subsidy programs are. How are those nonprofit organizations performing? We do not doubt that financing should go towards integration, because it is essentially necessary - they are not capable, for example, of learning basic things, as the subsidy programs describe," the MP said of Romani people.
Reporter Veronika Sedláčková followed up by asking the MP whether she was speaking about Romani people in general, and she confirmed that she was. Uhlová then responded by saying that "There are actually many integrated Roma, it's just that we don't see them because they don't ask for money. If they work, for example, in your supermarket, then basically you don't even notice them, because you aren't expecting to see them there. I know that their integration is absolutely massive. There are people who will tell you they are Hungarians, but they are Romani. We can ask ourselves: Why don't they declare their actual ethnicity?"
"Think about whether you would lease an apartment to a Romani family without knowing what kind of family they are. I can understand a person being choosy about tenants - but imagine you are a Romani person who doesn't want to live in a residential hotel. If nobody will accommodate you, then you have no chance of getting out of there," Uhlová said.
The journalist said she believes that Romani efforts to integrate into society are growing. Nevertheless, she also believes it remains necessary to undertake steps toward eliminating the discrimination against Romani people in education, housing and on the labor market that they experience in their everyday lives.
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