Wednesday, February 11, 2009


The big story in the Romanian media at the moment is about the murder of one of the country's top handball players in a disco in Vezprem, Hungary. He (Marian Cozma) played for the Romanian national team, and played for the local team in Vezprem along with a few other foreign stars. They were out celebrating a teammates new baby at the weekend, and then fight broke out and Cozma got stabbed in the chest and died (and two others - a Serb and Croatian, were badly hurt).

I have to confess that one of my first reactions on hearing this tragic story (when all I knew was that a famous Romanian handball star had been killed in Hungary), was to fear that he had been murdered by some crazy Hungarian nationalist intent on somehow getting his own back for Trianon or some such. Not that the manner or motive for the killing would matter to Cozma or his family or friends, but that if it were a hate crime, then it could turn into something more widespread and have long term political ramifications. As far as we know this wasn't the case and the team just got attacked for being in the wrong place at the wrong time while what amounted to a local gang/mafia type grudge was being played out.

However, the case is not without its ramifications and ethnic overtones. The men accused of killing Cozma are, you see, Rroma. So large swathes of the Hungarian press and its right-wing politicians have seized on this as clear evidence that this is an ethnic problem, and that "Gypsies" in general are to blame. A newspaper writer, for example, described gypsies as "not human beings, but animals". (In another recent case, a police chief was sacked for making racist remarks about Rroma, and then reinstated after public protest)

You can read a fairly comprehensive and thorough account of the whole tragic event here .

Some other articles in English: Bloomberg ;

As the economic crisis really begins to bite here, it seems that the Rroma will again start being blamed for all of societies ills. It's already pretty much government policy in Italy, and the opposition in Hungary are fairly clearly playing the anti-Rroma race card too.


Anonymous said...

Oh...this part of the world will never grow up...I think. There will be always nationalistic cards to be played, historical problems, ethnic "differences", in the sense - we are good they are bad.
I kind of got used with the idea.

Thanks anyway, it was a good article.


Gadjo Dilo said...

Yes, it's amazing how much one gets used to such ideas. I must read that article.

Andy H said...

I fear it's not just this part of the world Camy.

Anonymous said...

I meant Eastern-Central Europe. And the Balkans.
Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Slovakia, Hungary...
You also wrote something about Italy. Italians I know say "it is not that bad you know"..maybe they are right?.

And what can one do, Gajdo Dilo?
Just avoid conflicts of any sorts. If possible.
If someone says I am stupid I walk away... (it is a very Romanian cowardly way of thinking one may argue but it must have some wit in it..on the long run at least ). I can't think I could personally change the world.


Andy H said...

I think nationalism and the desire to blame the other is everywhere, sadly, Camy. In SE Europe it's directed predominantly at the Rroma, because they're the prominent outsider group. In Western Europe it tends to be directed at immigrants - whether they be from Africa, eastern Europe, or Asia.

Is it really "that bad" in Italy? I have no idea to be honest, though the government (which is also closely tied into the biggest media empire there since the PM owns it) is, it seems to me, encouraging and inciting a lot of this hatred. I'm not sure it is really "that bad" anywhere, honestly, and still think/hope that it is a small minority of people who think in this way, but I'm getting increasingly concerned.

Take a look at this for another very good piece on this subject.

Anonymous said...

Yes, thanks, I read the article. Very good and true.
In my opinion nowadays is the mass-media which is responsible for so much xenophobia and racism. Or rather...irresponsible. It is always the nationality or ethnic background which is given in the articles etc. covering the crimes, and is emphasized as a "important" fact of the happening.
Secondly or maybe primarily?, the politicians, who use everything they can to get them voted.


Adi said...

Why, please tell my why do the Gypsies have the same, or very similar problems throughout Europe? All of the European nations are racist? Or probably a very visible percent of them are engaging the very same activities everywhere?

And what about Attila Lakatos, the vajda of Borsod County in Hungary, who, despite being himself a Gypsy as well, acknowledged the existence of so-called "cigánybűnözés"? Is he racist, too?


I don't want to carry on this list, but I could.

Anonymous said...


Pretend you're right..they might have some problems regarding the rules by which they conduct themselves, rules which "we" do not accept...
But, have you ever thought that after hundreds of years of marginalization they can't help themselves? Are these "problems" to do more with the poverty and lack of education or more with being gypsy? But be honest here.

I remember I had once, in my early childhood a gypsy little girl friend. The family was living in a block, had regular jobs. She used to invite me over, it was a poor but extremely clean apartment (I was, (I don't know where from I had it ), prepared to see some dirty apt.).
Some day we had a quarrel..over some muddy figurines we made in the park near our block of flats. I literally thrown mud at her and said: you, gypsy! you, dirty gypsy! (which was not true)
She did not speak to me since then.
Needless to say I am sorry till this very day.

My point was, in this kind of "social climate" they had to live in.
Do you think can bring up good results??


Andy H said...

Why, please tell my why do the Gypsies have the same, or very similar problems throughout Europe? All of the European nations are racist? Or probably a very visible percent of them are engaging the very same activities everywhere?

It's an interesting question, Adi, though I think very loaded. Firstly, as far as I know this reputation for violent crime is very new - Rroma have always been accused of petty crimes - theft etc, but as far as I know this current urge to blame the entire community for every violent crime going is very new.

And let's turn your paragraph on to a different subject. Change the word Gypsies for Jews in your sentence there. At least up until the holocaust it would easily fit. Is it because the Jews were to blame, or because there was a serious strain of anti-semitism running through Europe?

I presume the list of towns you posted was a list of places where Rroma have been convicted or are presumed to have been guilty of violent crime. Can you not also post a list of places in Hungary where Hungarians have been guilty of violent crime? (I know you won't but you easily could)

As for allegations of racism. Accusing someone of murder is not racist. Even saying that some Rroma are violent criminals is not racist (since presumably they are, just as some Hungarians, some Romanians, some Britons, some Germans, etc etc, are violent criminals). Saying that the Rroma community, uniquely, is responsible for all the violent acts carried out by any of its members and that they are all therefore responsible is racist. A serial killer was recently convicted in the UK. He was as anglo-saxon as me, but I don't feel that I am responsible for his crimes. Do you feel responsible for any crime committed by a Hungarian?