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Hindus condemn dismantling of Gypsy camp in Rome

Hindus have strongly criticized the reported dismantling of a Gypsy (Roma) camp in Rome forcing families homeless and some taking refuge in an ancient basilica.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that it was barbaric to dismantle Roma settlement without providing them alternate accommodation.

Terming it as “misplaced attitude of Italian authorities towards Roma population”, Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, stressed that Italy should come out with long-term solutions on Roma issue. Crackdowns, forcible evacuations and frequent dismantling of Roma campsites without offering proper alternatives was simply inhuman and a dark stain on Italy and Europe and did not solve anything. Italy should show responsibility and arrange housing for all Roma where they could live their lives with dignity. About 150,000 Roma reportedly live in Italy, with about 100 camps in Rome alone.

Rajan Zed further said that religion clearly told us to help the helpless, defenseless and downtrodden and love them, but His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, who lived in the heart of Europe and only few miles away from this dismantled campsite, had hardly ever come out with a strong statement supporting the Roma cause. Pope, being the claimed representative of God on earth, should voice against continuous Roma maltreatment and thus act as God wanted him to act.

Zed argued that Roma maltreatment in Europe was like an undeclared apartheid. Roma reportedly regularly faced 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 also criticized the management of ancient Roman Catholic basilica St. Paul’s Outside-the-Walls for reportedly not letting back in the Roma who had gone outside for work and securing food. Basilica should shelter the displaced Roma till City provided them with alternative accommodation. Bible said: “…let the outcasts of Moab sojourn among you; be a shelter to them from the destroyer… (Isaiah 16:4).”

In February, three brothers and a sister, aged 4-11 years, perished while asleep when fire swept through their shack, while adults were out running errands in a Roma settlement in Rome outskirts, according to reports.