Reportedly refusing Gypsy (Roma) children access to schools in southeast France and forcing them to attend classes in police station was simply xenophobia and apartheid and should not be acceptable in 21st century Europe, distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed stated in Nevada (USA) today.
Reports suggest that after being refused access to schools, Roma children were attending classes in the police station at Saint-Fons, a Lyon suburb. There was just one teacher for these children aged 6-12 and unlike other France state schools, they were not provided lunch resulting in their walking to the Roma encampment about 1.5 kilometers.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, further said that this segregation of Roma children was inhuman and had no place in 21st century France and Europe which boasts of its human rights record. It simply smacked of xenophobia and racism against a community of voiceless about 15-million Roma who had been around in Europe since ninth century CE.
French nationalist politician Jean-Marie Le Pen reportedly implied that Roma were thieves in a speech few months back in western France. Vigilantes reportedly forcibly evicted Roma and burned their settlement in Marseille in southern France few months back. The socialist government headed by President Francois Hollande seemed to have adopted the similar much-criticized policy of crackdown on Roma settlements and deporting the poor inhabitants which was the same policy as the previous conservative government of President Nicolas Sarkozy, Rajan Zed argued.
Instead of unleashing repression, France and Europe needed to work on social inclusion and rehabilitation of Roma communities. What was more baffling that even religious elite of France had not come out openly against this unjust crackdown on poor Roma while the religions clearly told us to help the helpless, Zed noted.
Europe’s most persecuted and discriminated community, Roma were reportedly facing apartheid conditions in Europe. Roma reportedly regularly encountered social exclusion, racism, substandard education, hostility, joblessness, rampant illness, inadequate housing, lower life expectancy, unrest, living on desperate margins, stereotypes, mistrust, rights violations, discrimination, marginalization, appalling living conditions, prejudice, human rights abuse, etc., Rajan Zed pointed out.