Slovakia: Racist politicians launch hateful anti-Romani campaign over state's pandemic benefit for impoverished children
The Government of Slovakia has approved a proposal for a one-time payment of EUR 333 per child as compensation to families for the limitations imposed on them as a consequence of the pandemic, and a wave of anti-Romani hatred has been sparked by the move. According to Slovak MP Peter Pollák, Jr (OĽaNO), who is himself a Romani community member, the Government should have more clearly described to the public who the primary recipients of the benefit would be much earlier in the process.
According to Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger (OĽaNO) the decision to approve the proposal was made by the governing coalition. The proposal has not just sparked criticism of the Government but a wave of hatred against the Romani minority online.
Some of the disinformation spread online includes the untruthful allegation that the finances of "white working families" are being collected to support Romani households with many members who live in settlements or at the Luník IX housing estate in Košice. The Denník N daily newspaper in Slovakia has reported that politicians are taking advantage of the Government decision in order to smear Romani people.
Slovak MP Ľuboš Blaha (SMER) and the group of former supporters of the fascist politician Marian Kotleba who are now in the circle of Slovak MEP Milan Uhrík are some of those taking political advantage of the situation. Slovak MP Milan Mazurek and Uhrík have issued a joint statement alleging without proof that the typical recipient of the state's pandemic benefit is "a settlement woman with nine children who has never worked and currently is receiving EUR 3 000."
The enormous hate campaign against Romani people began after the video making those claims was viewed by 300 000 Internet users. Slovak Labor and Social Affairs Minister Milan Krajniak (SME RODINA) responded to the video by asking his supporters to take the time to correct the record when they see the hateful allegations.
The minister said the contribution is intended for children whose families are in material distress. According to the information he has officially published, most of those receiving the benefit are either families headed by single mothers or families with not more than three children.
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