Two stories of note today, one from France and the other Brussels.
Beauty pageant idiocy in Paris
While we question when whole notion of “beauty pageants,” the following tale exemplifies how the trivial can be turned into a platform for something else entirely
From Rosie Collyer of Radio France Internationale:
Ultra-nationalists from the group New France protested outside the first ever Miss Black France beauty pageant in Paris on Saturday. They were demanding a white-only version of the competition.
Riot police were called to contain a potentially volatile situation between ultra-nationalists demonstrators and spectators of Miss Black France. A group of some 30 members of Nouvelle France, or New France chanted slogans and held a banner, which read: When will there be a Miss White France?
The group has a “nationalist” agenda but does not align itself with the Front National political party of Marine Le Pen, which won over 20 per cent of the vote in the first round of the presidential elections. A group member, who asked to remain anonymous, told RFI:
“France should be for French people. Why should Asians and Africans come here and have more rights than us? This is why we are demanding a Miss White France,” he said.
Yeah. Franc should be for French people. But that raises the question of who is French?
Lots of French people have ancestors who came from different places [ancient Greeks and Romans, Carthaginians, Basques, Huns. . .well you get the idea]. And when you get right down to it, we’re all Africans anyway if you go back far enough.
So we suspect what the buffoon really means is “France should be for white people.”
And the Roma win a major court victory
Before we get to the hard news. First we’ll bring you some remarkable videos.
The Roma [the largest of the peoples grouped together under the “Gypsy” label], have their own anthem, Dzelem Dzelem [I traveled, I traveled], set to a traditional melody with words by Žarko Jovanović and adopted at the first World Romani Congress in 1971.
The 1949 lyrics are set against the background of the Porajmos, “the devouring,” the Nazi effort which targeted the Roma, Sinti, and Sorb peoples for extermination along with Europe’s Jews.
Hence the lines referring to the black-clad minion’s of Heinrich Himmler’s SS:
I once had a great family,
The Black Legions murdered them
We offer three versions.
The first, recorded two years ago, is performed by Macedonian Roma artist Esma Redzepova:
Our second version, recorded in 2009, is by Serbian Romani singer Jelena Marković:
Finally, a rendition by the children of the Gandhi School Choir of Pecs, Hungary:
And now for the court victory
From Deutsche Welle’s Sonya Angelica Diehn:
The European Court of Human Rights ruled that evicting Roma from an established community outside of Sofia, Bulgaria, would violate the right to life. Amnesty International called it a “landmark judgment.”
The Strasbourg-based rights court issued the ruling last week in favor of 23 Bulgarian nationals living in a settlement with about 250 other Roma.
The Roma had settled in Batalova Vodenitsa, on the outskirts of Bulgaria’s capital Sofia, in the 1960s and 70s.
The 1990s saw growing hostility against Roma in Sofia, including some politicians calling for the emptying of “Roma ghettos.”
Citing tensions with neighbors over the makeshift homes, which lacked building permits and didn’t fulfill safety regulations, a local court in 2006 upheld an eviction order by Sofia authorities after the land was privatized.
And here’s some context from euronews:
The Council of Europe’s Roma and Travellers Division has published a list of Roma populations, using some minimum and maximum estimates, and has established a list of “average estimates”. According to that list, these are the 10 countries in Europe with the highest Roma populations: Turkey (2.75 million); Romania (1.85 million); Russia (825,000); Bulgaria (750,000); Spain (725,000); Hungary (700,000); Serbia (600,000); Slovakia (500,000); France (400,000); and Greece (265,000).
What is certain is that the Roma issue has been pushed right up the political agenda in Europe – especially since the eruption of a high-profile political row involving the European Commission and France and the broadcast around the world of images of Roma being evicted from camps and put on planes back to their countries ‘of origin’. Now, to tackle the ongoing discrimination this community faces, and to improve their social inclusion or integration, EU countries are under pressure to develop comprehensive action plans. It’s not just about fighting discrimination, say the experts; it’s also about ensuring that integration is promoted through better housing, health, employment and education.