Sunday 4 December 2016

Far from home and far from safe - a migrant's nightmare

If Marioara Rostas had been Irish, writes Eilis O'Hanlon, her name would be burned into our consciousness

Published 10/08/2014 | 02:30

Marioara Rostas
Marioara Rostas

Jews are not generally seen these days as untermenschen, even if the recent fighting in Gaza has given the deep hidden store of anti-Semitism in Europe another opportunity to go mainstream. Communists and gay people, likewise, are now accepted as perfectly respectable, non-threatening members of the community. Alone amongst those whom Hitler sought to demonise, members of the Roma community remain targets for distaste and distrust.

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Germany didn't even admit that the Roma had been a special group targeted for their ethnicity during the Holocaust until 1982, and the community has never received reparations in the way that European Jews did, though hundreds of thousands of them, possibly more than a million, died in concentration camps and pogroms in the 1930s and '40s, with the entire Roma population of some countries, including Croatia, Estonia and Lithuania, being wiped out at a stroke. Still the Roma live on the margins of European society, never quite fitting in, never quite being accepted, never quite shaking off the reputation of being shifty, dirty, anti-social.

This continuing prejudice, of course, offends the liberal sensibilities of many Irish people, who were keen to leap on a recent report into the removal of two blond-haired, blue-eyed Roma children from their families under suspicion that they'd been stolen from their real parents.

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