Photo credit: comicbase / Jeroen Mirck
Photo credit: comicbase / Jeroen Mirck

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Hindus and Jews have come out in support of entertainer Madonna who was reportedly booed and jeered by thousands of fans in Romania Wednesday night when she sympathized with Roma people, who they say face apartheid in Europe.

Rajan Zed, acclaimed Hindu statesman; and Rabbi Jonathan B. Freirich, prominent Jewish leader in Nevada and California in USA; in a statement in Nevada today, said that Romania and Europe should apologize for blatant show of prejudice shown towards fellow Roma brothers/sisters when Madonna spoke against Roma discrimination during her concert in Bucharest.

Zed and Freirich pointed out that alarming condition of Roma people was a social blight for Europe and the rest of the world as they reportedly regularly faced social exclusion, racism, substandard education, hostility, joblessness, rampant illness, inadequate housing, lower life expectancy, unrest, living on desperate margins, language barriers, stereotypes, mistrust, rights violations, discrimination, marginalization, appalling living conditions, prejudice, human rights abuse, racist slogans on Internet, etc.

It was like an undeclared apartheid and it was almost total societal exclusion of Roma. The maltreatment of Roma was outside even the European Union norms. Roma issue should be one of the highest priorities of human rights agenda of Europe and world, Rajan Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, and Rabbi Jonathan Freirich argued. According to a recent report of European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, one in two Roma considered that they had been discriminated against, at least once, in the previous 12 months.

Hindu and Jewish leaders have urged other Hollywood and entertainment celebrities of the world not to stay apathetic and silent spectators and use their status to highlight the apartheid conditions faced by about 15-million Roma people of Europe. Many Hollywood and other entertainment bigwigs had successfully worked against South Africa’s apartheid in the past.

Cheers reportedly gave way to jeers, when Madonna paused midway before a sell-out crowd of about 60,000 in Bucharest during her song La Isla Bonita in her about two-hour concert, part of her worldwide “Sticky and Sweet” tour,  and touched on the plight of Roma people, showing the deeply entrenched prejudice against Roma in Europe. She reportedly continues with concerts in Sofia and Tel Aviv during the coming days.

Rajan Zed and Rabbi Freirich further said that references to Roma people in Europe reportedly went as far back as ninth century AD. How many more centuries Roma had to reside in Europe to prove that they were “real and equal” Europeans like any other, they asked.

Golden Globe winner Madonna (Evita) is a singer-actress-dancer- songwriter- record producer- film director & producer-author-entrepreneur- fashion designer-etc., and Rolling Stone described her as “one of the greatest pop acts of all time”. Roma are believed to have their roots in the Indian subcontinent.