European Roma flood Facebook with hundreds of photos of themselves at work, tell Czech President to stop insulting them
The Facebook social networking site was flooded yesterday afternoon with hundreds of photos of Romani people at work, all uploaded in response to the insulting, racist remarks made by Czech President Miloš Zeman during a visit last week to the Olomouc Region, when he insinuated that the unemployed population of the community he was visiting was comprised of Romani people in particular. "We are no longer amused by the allegations that we don't work," Romani community member Štefan Pongo posted to Facebook.
"OK, we'll flood Facebook with photographs of ourselves at work. Send me your work pictures," Pongo asked his fellow Roma community members online.
His call was shared by the ROMEA organization and during the next few hours hundreds of photographs were posted beneath both his post and ROMEA's from the broadest possible range of locations throughout the Czech Republic and Europe where Romani people are in fact working. "My friend Jiří Keleš came up with the idea," Pongo told news server Romea.cz.
"We want to publish these photos online so they will be constantly available. I feel rather sorry for President Miloš Zeman, he already does not know which way to turn," Pongo said.
Zeman was quoted as saying that "I am decidedly no friend of communism, but during communism Romani people had to work. Most of them worked as ditch- diggers, and if they refused to work, they were designated as work-shy and went to prison."
"The Romani labor platoons were led by Romani men who had natural authority," the Czech President reminisced. "If somebody on their team didn't work, they slapped him around."
"It's a very humane method that worked most of the time," the President was quoted as saying. The European Roma Rights Centre (ERRC) objected to Zeman's remarks and called them an obvious display of hatred and racism.
"Your abusive rhetoric, designed to stoke fear and racist resentment, poses a direct threat to democratic values and the security of individuals and communities," the ERRC said in an open letter to the Czech President. The organization then went on to call for his resignation.
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