Reding on Roma: The Committed Commissioner
The statement by Viviane Reding, the European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, on the situation of Roma in Europe is to be welcomed for its unequivocal and forthright commitment to Roma inclusion. It is a firm and eloquent rebuttal to criticisms that the Commission has remained silent in the wake of the crisis prompted by the actions taken against Roma by the French government. Her personal expression of regret that some of the rhetoric used in Member States of late has been "openly discriminatory and partly inflammatory" is a reminder of just how pervasive anti-Roma sentiment remains in Europe.
Protestations by the French that their actions in razing camps and repatriating Roma are neither racist nor discriminatory have cut little ice in the wider world. Such is the storm of criticism from right across the political spectrum, from religious and civic leaders across Europe, that for many, these actions have acquired the smear of turpitude. From within the French President’s own party, the policy was described as "turning disgraceful" and the camp evictions likened to World War II round-ups.
This latest tumult is but the incendiary tip of a deeply-rooted and long neglected social crisis of discrimination compounded by abject poverty that has been the plight of the Roma.
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