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Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The Gypsies in history and today, treated as Europe's "public enemy"

The Gypsies are an easily-identified, incredibly distinct, and unfortunately a bitterly hated non-European race dispersed throughout Eastern Europe and the Balkans. The Roma people, a sub-group of the greater Romani race that occupies Europe, emigrated as nomads from North India several centuries ago. The exact timeframe and circumstances incurring their relocation are unclear. They may have migrated for superior agricultural opportunities, they may have traveled westward on trade routes created by Alexander the Great, or they may have been fleeing from persecution in India by the invading Mujahidin of the Muslim sultanates there (Ghorids, Ghaznavids, or the Lodis of Delhi). The only certainty is that it took centuries and began at least over 500 years ago.
The Roma are a tribal people, and carried many of the traditional customs, values, and religious beliefs of India with them. Their physiognomy is the same as that of North India: straight dark hair, darker skin, shorter stature, a broader skull, a long nose, and dark pigmentation under the eyes. Their non-European origin makes them an easy victim of discrimination and inter-ethnic conflict with native Europeans. The language Romani derives from Sanskrit and North Indian languages. They have no written language of their own, although foreign human rights groups have promoted a Latin- or Sanskrit-based alphabet in hopes of improved franchise. Reincarnation, polytheism, intense superstitition and propitiation of gods, a strong hierarchy, and various forms of gods of Indian Hindu origin all are expressed among the Roma in great variety. One village may have a different set of religious or clan ethics than another only a few miles away. In Romania, they are often called the Țigani. The Roma include many tribes, including the famous Sinti (named after Sindh province in Pakistan) and the Kalderashi, greatly connected with criminal groups. Their use of superstititions and "witchcraft" drew a baseless parallel to ancient Egyptian mystics and their traditions. As a result, the Roma were often directly referred to as "Egyptians," hence [E]gypsies. They were often involved in "freak shows" and circuses with bears that gave them a very negative association. Their propensity for theft created the English expression "to jip" (to steal). The German term "Zigeuner" is today considered politically incorect, but Germans still retain its use. Although many claim that Roma feign the religion of the nations they populate (Christendom), it is often dismissed as only a pragmatic attempt at survival and also in many cases a fraudulent appeal to Christian compassion to give them money (see below). The vast majority retain their traditional religions that are blended with Christian and especially Orthodox elements.
At least 500 years ago (calculations vary), the Gypsies settled in Eastern Europe during the Medieval period. Most avoided staying in the Middle East, likely due to its brutal persecution of polytheistic religions like that of the Roma, similar to their ancestors' experience in Muslim-dominated India. Most settled in what became Hungary, Romania, Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, Slovakia, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Albania. Small communities further traveled all over the rest of Europe. Most settled in delapidated shanties, tent colonies, and ghettoes that were greatly secluded and segregated from the native populations, as is the case today. There was and remains almost no assimiliation due to obstinent inter-cultural antagonism. Over the past several centuries of their nomadic settlement in Eastern Europe and the Russian Steppes, they have been treated as a bacillus or parasite and have even frequently been expelled, attacked, or even in the case of World War II, exterminated altogether. Their non-Christian nature made them an additional target for angry Christian mobs. It was not only the Germans who massacred the Gypsies along with the Jews and homosexuals; Hungary, Croatia, Slovakia, and Romania (all Axis nations) took the opportunity to put many of their Gypsies to death or do nothing to stop its ocurrence (see below).
The Gypsies never built a civilization, state, or polity. Their level of development today is reminiscent of the Middle Ages, with all features of modern civilization (sanitation, running water, heating, waste disposal, schools, offices, security, etc.) all being provided by the European governments. The only case of a type of Roma state was a small fiefdom in the Greek island of Corfu in the 14th century that only lasted a few years.

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