Sinti and Roma inspire ‘hostility’ in German population, study reveals

Chairman of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, Romani Rose, speaks at an event hosted by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation in Berlin. 2011 [Rosa Luxemburg-Stiftung/Flickr]

Romani Rose, Chairman of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, speaks at an event hosted by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation. Berlin, 2011. [Rosa Luxemburg-Stiftung/Flickr]

A recent study shows that one in three Germans rejects Sinti and Roma as neighbours, revealing “deeply rooted stereotypes”. EURACTIV Germany reports.

Results of a recent survey show ignorance and prejudice against Sinti and Roma remain widespread within the German population.

The comprehensive study, “Popular opinions regarding Sinti and Roma” was presented Wednesday (3 September) by the German Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency (ADS) .  

Researchers analysed stereotypes related to Europe’s largest minority and existing knowledge about the group, providing recommendations for dismantling discrimination.

Compared to other minorities, Sinti and Roma are met with the least amount of sympathy, the study showed. One in two respondents said they believed Sinti and Roma inspired hostility, because of their behaviour.

“Indifference, ignorance and rejection create a fatal combination, that paves the way for discrimination of Sinti and Roma,” ADS director Christine Lüders said at the presentation of the study.

A considerable portion of the German population does not regard Sinti and Roma as equal fellow citizens, she explained.

The findings are dramatic, Lüders said, demanding substantial action from both a political and societal standpoint.

Romani Rose, the chairman of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, voiced his concern over the deeply rooted stereotypes revealed by the study: “Against their better judgement, key policy makers exploit the concept of Roma as an enemy in the poverty migration debate, thus instrumentalising widespread anti-Ziganism,” Rose said.

In a joint proposal for action, ADS and the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma called for regular surveys on discrimination experiences among Sinti and Roma.

The construction of an educational academy for Sinti and Roma is also important, the two groups said, as well as greater efforts by self-organised bodies to participate in state agreements.

Additional initiatives proposed by the groups included representation on broadcasting councils and better protection measures combating discrimination by administrative authorities and the police.

The Roma are Europe's largest ethnic minority, EU figures show. The European Commission estimates the Roma population in the EU at 11 million, with their origins tracing back to mediaeval India.

Census statistics show that 535,000 Roma live in Romania, 370,000 in Bulgaria, 205,000 in Hungary, 89,000 in Slovakia and 108,000 in Serbia. Some 200,000 Roma are estimated to live in the Czech Republic and Greece, while 500,000 live in Turkey.

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