On Air: Do we have a gypsy problem or just a problem with gypsies?

They’re probably the most reviled ethnic group in Europe – Romany Gypsies. But do we have a gypsy problem, or just a problem with Gypsies?

In Italy as many as 150,000 Romanies are facing finger-printing, something that no other ethnic group must submit to. The government says it’s a way of indentifying people after a recent spate of crime blamed on the Romany community. Critics of the plan say it’s simply ethnic profiling.

Around the world, many Roma live in terrible poverty, without jobs and with very little education. But how much of this is the community’s fault? How much of the stereotypes of Gypsy criminality are true? How much has that contributed to their social exclusion?

Should the Roma be forced to integrate more into mainstream society? If so, how to go about this? Or is it simply that the non-Romany community is ignorant and prejudiced for no good reason?

Today WHYS is coming live from a Gypsy site just outside London, to discuss these issues and anything else YOU want to bring up about the Romany. Ros will be joined by co-host Jake Bowers, one of the UK’s very few Romany journalists. Here’s an email from Jake to introduce himself.

Hello everyone.
As a Romany journalist I’ve spent the last ten years travelling between the rare bits of territory that Romany people call home. From Romany palaces in Transylvania, to ancient Romany Mahalas (quarters) in Kosovo and the numerous shanty towns and stopping places that exist across Europe, Romany homes range from the opulent to the atrocious, yet there something similar about all of them. Gypsy people can be rich or live in conditions you’d barely believe possible in some of the richest countries on earth, yet we all possess a fierce pride in our identity and heritage.

But that universal Romany pride seems to be matched only by a universal hostility to Romany people wherever I’ve travelled. I’ve lived in horse-drawn wagons the way our ancestors did, in houses like most of us do now and in modern caravans, but no matter where I’ve been I’ve witnessed hatred, hostility and fear. As a community journalist I’ve also witnessed ignorance, intolerance and a refusal to integrate from my own community. We’re often blamed for our own predicament as the world’s eternal outsiders, but can the excluded ever really do anything to be let in from the cold – other than giving up the very identity that places us there in the first place?

Like many of the 350 council run Gypsy sites that exist across Britain, and every Romany community from Belfast to Bucharest, today we’ll be broadcasting from a segregated community that preserves Romany values and culture at a time where nomadic life is all but outlawed and certainly largely misunderstood.  There’s already a discussion on the the blog about some of these issues here.  

Ros and I will be joined by Romany from all over Europe, as well as people who wish we’d just go away and live somewhere else. We’d love to hear your questions and comments, and if you want to join us live as a caller on the programme, email worldhaveyoursay@bbc.co.uk with your phone number, and we’ll try to get you on.

122 Responses to “On Air: Do we have a gypsy problem or just a problem with gypsies?”

  1. 1 Savane, Nairobi
    October 8, 2008 at 08:52

    I think “we” have a problem with gypsies.

    You can replace the word “gypsy” with Muslims, Catholic, Mormons, Africans, Americans, the British, women, men, single- parent families, teenagers, immigrants, refugees……………should I keep going?

    What exactly have the Gypsies done ‘wrong’, other than stay true to their ethnicity, values and way of life?

    Does it not then stand to follow that anyone can easily be labelled ‘a problem’ if they don’t conform to your standards, beliefs and culture?

    The questions you should be asking are: Do I have the right to be prejudiced? Do you have right to object to my prejudice towards you?

  2. 2 Vijay
    October 8, 2008 at 12:35

    We have a gypsy problem, unfortunately the world has changed and the nomadic lifestyle in Europe is no longer tolerated.It is up to Gypsies to adapt to the people around them and for governments and host populations to accept and integrate gypsies into mainstream culture.

    Gypsies are from India,there are nomadic peoples here still.The Gujjars for example, were protesting in recent years for special status that would give them better employment and educational prospects.
    The term “mahalas”is like mohallas(neighbourhood)used in North India and Pakistan .

  3. 3 John in Salem
    October 8, 2008 at 13:20

    Sorry, Ros.
    I’m 57 years old, I’ve lived all over the western United States, I’ve interacted with dozens of different ethnic groups but I have never once met anyone who said they were an authentic Romanian gypsy.
    No problem here…

  4. 4 GretchenDawntreader
    October 8, 2008 at 13:46

    a couple of focus programs in the US I’ve seen on tv paint a portrait of a closed society that runs itself as practically a scam/crime syndicate.

    But then, you can’t believe everything you hear on tv. Depending who you listen to, all muslims are terrorists, all jews are greedy, etc.

  5. 5 parth guragain,nepal
    October 8, 2008 at 13:58

    Rautes are a kind of group that live in forest of nepal.when GP koirala was primeminister of Nepal these people visited him.when primeminister offered them land to live and cultivate they refused outright.they loved to live in forest and roam.

  6. 6 Dennis@OCC
    October 8, 2008 at 14:28

    I think we have a problem with gypsiess and Also a gypsy problem…

    Thanks to the WHYS for covering this important problem…


  7. October 8, 2008 at 15:02

    All I got is a very narrow perspective of what this group really is. Apart from their roving nature, there is nothing I know about them. Maybe a proper definition will be a starting point for me.

  8. 8 Nikitas
    October 8, 2008 at 15:05

    It’s quite simply that the gypsy culture does not fit into the mainstream of western European society. However I think the way their integration is dealt with varies immensely from country to country. There are certainly several celebrated forms of gypsy culture even in general pop culture. I can think of some musicians for example and in the Closing ceremony of Athens 2004 the gypsy culture was also included in part of the celebrations. Granted gypsies are likely to be associated with a particular class tier, they are without a doubt a thread in the fabric of European society.

    As for the problem in Italy with the gypsies, I don’t think their handling of this particular minority is any more/less significant than the way they deal with foreign immigrants. There are minorities of all sorts within Europe and I don’t think that each group is equally received amongst the union countries. Being a Canadian, living in the USA of Greek descent I find it very interesting to watch the cultural shift currently undertaking in Greece. I believe it applies to Europe in general. Greece used to be a country which produced immigrants and its culture was liberally shared amongst the World in a massive diaspora. Now Greece is a nation to which people are immigrating and the Greek people have never had to deal with the cultural and social impact of immigration on their soil. So they apply what they know not having learnt the lessons other far western nations have already learnt through trial and error, such as the USA and Canada.

  9. 9 Jennifer
    October 8, 2008 at 15:12

    Before this topic was posted I was not very familiar with gypsies. When I was younger, my mom told me about some that lived under a bridge here. From what she told me, I sensed that they are at times not thought highly of. I’ll speak generally since I don’t have concrete knowledge about gypsies of my own. I think it is important for different groups to maintain their unique identity but also assimilate into the mainstream as needed for their own betterment. Open systems thrive while close systems do not.

  10. 10 Alby
    October 8, 2008 at 16:06

    the economic stresses brought on by the Iraq war and its stresses on USD and oil prices is wearing on people all over the expensive developed world where transportation and food prices have shot up for working families. Of course new competition in other commodities markets brought on by the success of BRIC countries is also a backdrop trend to all of this. The poor in our developed countries are getting hit harder than we are in W8 or 16ieme.

    So, who gets hit in these kinds of times? I learned pretty close to kindergarten that we all look for scapegoats to deflect us from our true problems, ourselves and our political choices! This is what we were told caused the Holocaust in Europe. So, it is happening now everywhere. The Gypsies have little or no voice in government or media to advocate for them in Europe, so they are an easy target. Christians were getting it a few weeks ago in India.

    In the US, liberal groups are now lamenting the rise of Anti-Semitism in the world, although Anti-Islamism has been going on since 2001, with police action and all kinds of civil rights abuses against Muslims. And, Anti-Latino, Anti-Immigrant is part of the fare in popular culture now throughout the troubled parts of the US, with big high profile raids against them. These are the times we brought upon ourselves with our economic callousness and indifference to the activities of our elected politicians. We’ll see what happens, but we know how these things play out.

  11. 11 Anthony
    October 8, 2008 at 16:18

    I don’t think people really know of Gypsies in California. I met one Gypsy woman (trying to sell her a car, except she had no money and no credit) and she kept telling me how Gypsies were evil, and how she was sold when she was a child, and about how they will steal from you, and that I should NEVER fall for a Gypsy girl. It was all kinda wierd. I saw the inside of her car, and she had soooo much clothes and knick-knacks.

    So that was my only know interaction with a Gypsy 🙂

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  12. 12 gary
    October 8, 2008 at 16:19

    My ethnicity would not be an issue if I decided to “live off the land.” I’d expect lots of trouble with the locals in my area because I would need to eat and drink; but would have only very tenuous methods of providing for these needs. I would need to be extremely creative in my foraging. Creative and conservative are opposites. Nomadic and settled coexist well only if they are not coincident.

  13. 13 viola
    October 8, 2008 at 16:33

    During my late husband’s service in Vietnam, one of his best friends, a Gypsy, was killed while on patrol. My husband accompanied his body back home and at the funeral, one of the family came up to him and said, “It wasn’t your fault.”

    I don’t know any Gypsies, but that story warmed my soul because I knew the guilt my husband carried.

    I have no problem with Gypsies. You cannot cheat or scam honest people and cheaters and scammers exist in every level of every society in every country in the world.


  14. 14 Nikitas
    October 8, 2008 at 16:37

    It’s interesting to ponder that the gypsy culture is a remnant of former ancient cultures. Peoples from the Mesopotamia, Persia, India who slowly moved into the northern African, eastern and eventually western European territories. Perhaps by ignoring their plight, we are ignoring our very own heritage, our own unique histories.

  15. October 8, 2008 at 16:41

    Some years ago there was a movie made about modern gypcies in America. It was very interesting in that they had adapted to a surface level, but held fast to their deep set ways and culture.

    When I was a little boy growing up in Connecticut; I remember my mother telling us that they had found a band of gypcies living in a vacant A&P large grocery store. I have no idea what the city did with them.

    When I worked for the Austrian Forest Service in Europe we came upon a settlement of reed huts around a huge lake near the Hungarian border where all the worlds eels went to breed and reproduce. The lake was large and only about one meter deep. My fellows told me that it is here where many of the gypcies camped and lived for a while during certain periods of the year before moving on into the towns of Eastern and Central Europe.

    Always I think of Cher, the American singer, who sings that very strong song about living in a gypcie caravan. You can see her story very vividly as she sings her song.

    Sort of a neat, back through history culture, that maybe is good to be preserved.

    Sort of keeps your wits about yourself to deal with this ancient reminder of what we are.

    Would be a neat group to win confidence in order to pay them to cross into cultures we do not understand…..mainly our enemies and find out what they could tell us. Course they would most likely be double agents and bilk both sides and play them for fools and take both sides for all they are worth.


  16. 16 Nikitas
    October 8, 2008 at 16:50


    ‘You cannot cheat or scam honest people and cheaters and scammers exist in every level of every society in every country in the world.’

    …right on!

  17. 17 adam
    October 8, 2008 at 16:54

    Why are Roma treated like persona no grata in Europe? Other immigrant groups seem to be far more accepted without racial or religious prejudice. From my experience living in the US, UK, and continental Europe, what stands out is a major discrepancy in the definition of “tradition”. In the Czech Republic, Roma are responsible for much of violent crime, theft, and misuse of social funding. I see heaps of young Roma on the street every day when they should be attending school. Their central value seems to revolve around taking advantage of a system designed for people who value hard work. A very small percentage seek out employment. Those that have assimilated to the culture are widely accepted, but lamentably still deal with some bigotry. If tradition means roving from country to country in order to collect the highest amount of social welfare possible and contributing nothing then Roma will never be accepted in any land(European or otherwise). By their metrics, they can not have a homeland because no socio-economic system can function without people willing to educate themselves, work, and sacrifice/plan for the future.

  18. 18 Anthony
    October 8, 2008 at 16:58

    @ Nikitas & viola:

    “‘You cannot cheat or scam honest people and cheaters and scammers exist in every level of every society in every country in the world.’

    …right on!”

    What??? Those who get cheated or scammed are almost always the honest people. I don’t get what you’re both talking about?

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  19. 19 selena in Canada
    October 8, 2008 at 17:01


    Since you mention welfare, no one collects more welfare then the super rich!

  20. 20 Dolapo Aina
    October 8, 2008 at 17:05

    Doklapo Aina
    lagos, Nigeria

  21. 21 Nikitas
    October 8, 2008 at 17:06


    What viola was stating and I was only confirming is that there are both good and bad in every and any society and culture. There are people who are sensitive, respectful and sympathetic everywhere in any culture. There are equally jealous, hurtful and disrespectful types in those cultures. What viola was expressing is that the disrespect of any particular group (in this case the gypsies) is unfair. If we are to persecute the gypsies for our general perception of them and their culture because we don’t understand it then are we to do the same to other cultures which don’t easily blend in to the mainstream of our societies? Whether those differences be religious, sexual, lingual, racial, etc…

  22. 22 selena in Canada
    October 8, 2008 at 17:06

    I had daily contact with Gypsies for a few weeks while working in Chile. I found them to be kind, courteous and fun. For others, they were a nuisance because they occupied a popular beach for tourists.

    A few weeks ago, in Paris, we put a new refrigerator on the street to be picked up by a charity. While waiting for the pickup, my husband had to run back inside for a couple of minutes. While he was gone (no more than five minutes) the refrigerator was stripped of its wiring, making it useless.

    The first thing that people say when told this story is, “It was the Gypsies!” Now I am certain there are many other people in Paris capable of stripping wires but the Gypsies get the blame all the same.

  23. 23 Anthony
    October 8, 2008 at 17:28

    @ Nikitas

    Ohhhh, gotcha. From that one post I was a bit confused 😉

    I think however, that there are groups of people that are more crafty, dishonest, and just plain “bad” than other groups. This is because of the way they are raised, not specifically because of race.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  24. 24 Nikitas
    October 8, 2008 at 17:39


    I would be willing to bet that your perspective is based on your own personal experience and not the general truth. Without being specific or slanderous towards any particular group, I would invite you to explain more in-depth your claim that: ‘there are groups of people that are more crafty, dishonest, and just plain “bad” than other groups. This is because of the way they are raised, not specifically because of race.’

  25. 25 Ogola Benard
    October 8, 2008 at 17:41

    yah! every body but just not every one? background,crucial, security, and wishes! see waters, mountains, travel and love!Alqaeda, do they do?

  26. 26 Mark
    October 8, 2008 at 17:54

    It is strictly a matter of European racism. This is one of Europe’s better kept secrets, that it remains a highly racist culture which will never resolve its problem because it won’t even acknowledge that it exists. The prejudice expressed by Europeans here is proof. If the Roma are not integrated, it’s because they aren’t allowed to be. Aren’t there laws which require children to go to schools and be exposed to the population at large? Don’t Roma children get to interact and become part of the mainstream? If they don’t it is not their fault. Does racism really exist in Europe? You bet it does everywhere. Ask the French of North African decent or Turks living in Germany. It will not go away by itslef and the Roma are part of a much larger European problem. It’s one of the many ticking time bombs left to go off one day.

  27. 27 Anthony
    October 8, 2008 at 18:00

    @ Nikitas


    “Based on current rates of first incarceration, an estimated 32% of black males will enter State or Federal prison during their lifetime, compared to 17% of Hispanic males and 5.9% of white males.”

    Blacks and Hispanic males in the U.S. commit more crime. It is because in general they are poorer, less educated, and have more of a “ghetto” mentality. I’m sure if a black child grew up in a nice Orange Country house, going to private school and boy scouts, this wouldnt be, but because of the past, and present, and situation, they are stuck as a product of their enviornment.

    True or untrue?

    -Anthony, LA, CA

    p.s. I’m hispanic, and not racist one bit 🙂

  28. 28 Nikitas
    October 8, 2008 at 18:07


    You are incredibly aggressive in your opinions of European racism.
    However, if you were to ask most North Africans in France or Turks in Germany
    what they feel most proud to be, they will more often than not reply by naming their parent’s or original ethnicity and not their adpoted culture. Could you not equally debate that immigrants to European nations should embrace more the local culture and tradition as opposed to the locals needing to make them feel welcome by allowing them to practice and preach as the would at home. When these collective groups in Europe show respect to their adopted native land, they should equally receive the respect deserved. However, not all collective minorities fall in to your claims. This discussion is exclusively about the gypsies in Europe who have been apart of continental civilization for millenia. The Turkish and Northern Africans in continental Europe are relatively new factions.

  29. 29 doug
    October 8, 2008 at 18:07

    Ive worked for gypsies who systematically planned to steal from me and then threatend me when I complained. They kept their name and ethnicity secret until I checked the records identifying them. These were part of a local community that are well known by police and neighbors to survive by crime and fraud on a professional basis.

    This may or may not be typical, just as Irish or Itallian are not all mobster cultures by any means. But its true in this case. It involves from petty theft and shoplifting to a local murder case where a young woman married an older man and killed him to obtain his estate.

  30. 30 Sauron K.
    October 8, 2008 at 18:16

    I have never met a gypsy, and I don’t know if there’s anything like that in America, but I would like to learn more about them. I have a very old book that is essentially a report on them, and it seemed positive, but I’d like to know more about them.

    P.S. I saw a phrase in the book: “Zin-Cala” Any idea what that means?


  31. 31 Nikitas
    October 8, 2008 at 18:16


    I can understand your perspective, totally and completely. Though I feel compelled to counter your claim.

    Those individuals who live in the ‘ghetto’, are they still not entitled to the various public services and entitlements all others are in western society? They still have access to libraries to read, the internet to perform research and learn what is going on around them, etc… I’m not saying that they choose to live in a particular class tier but they do however have the means to educate themselves and to take a different approach. To learn how to eat better, take advantage of certain social programs, to speak eloquently, etc. A lot of attitudes which are taken on may be somewhat inherent, however as individuals we have the chance and obligation to make change for the better. I think it’s totally unfair to lay blame entirely on the public/government/society for the state of the ‘ghetto’ and who falls into those categories. Not in a country like the USA. If someone can live poorly in the ‘ghetto’, then they can also live poorly in another state, another city, perhaps in the suburbs, etc.

    Part of it is the state of things and part is a personal choice to live a certain way.
    If you don’t like it, change it. If you procrastinate and not move to make the change you need than you’re only feeding your misery.

  32. 32 M.Rose
    October 8, 2008 at 18:18

    Of the Rom I only have a vague idea of haunting violins by a camp fireside. During a vacation in Italy the only gypsy I encountered was a young pickpocket trying to get at my funds. The one incident hasn’t ruined the romantic image though.

    I would like to know why they would prefer to subsist in their current nomadic manner.

  33. 33 Philippa
    October 8, 2008 at 18:20

    The rape of the elderly is unfortunately rather widespread. This has been reported in the Netherlands recently. I’m sure if the persons involved were Gypsies or Arabs it would have made even more of a splash in the media.

  34. October 8, 2008 at 18:21

    I have traveled throughout the US and Europe and the only time I have ever been mugged was in Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic by a Gypsy who put a straight razor to my neck. Yes, I do believe they bring condemnation upon themselves. They are nomadic bands of thieves.

    James from Michigan in the US

  35. October 8, 2008 at 18:21

    Do all Romanies around the world have a common language along with a common culture?

    Jacques from Boston

  36. October 8, 2008 at 18:22

    I absolutely cannot believe that this is really a discussion. Imagine if we were asking the same question about Jews! There is no Roma problem and we do not have a problem with them- we have a problem among ourselves of intolerance of minorities and the poor. The Roma are not a problem or a “question”- they are a persecuted people with a unique lifestyle that should be preserved and celebrated. Persecution is not limited to physical violence. It can also comprise institutional racism. I am not a Roma and my only experience with Roma is limited to seeing and living near them in Eastern Europe and Russia when I traveled, where they are very looked down upon and treated badly. Like any persecuted poor group, we can expect a higher crime rate among them, but it is our responsibility as majority groups to help them build a stronger heritage within our modern societies so that we can benefit from each other’s cultures.

    Elizabeth, Oregon, U.S.A.

  37. 37 Ogola Benard
    October 8, 2008 at 18:22

    when does a foreigner carry out crime? Italy is mafia!

  38. October 8, 2008 at 18:23

    I have been homeless for five years. I try to make a living during the day and I sleep in a car at night. I do nothing but sympathise when I see caravans parked on the side of the road. The hardest part of being homeless is: Standing still or sleeping. I can assure you there are many people in my situation and most of us don’t have caravans.

    John in the UK

  39. 39 John in Salem
    October 8, 2008 at 18:23

    These people describing the “common knowledge” about Gypsies in Hungary and Italy would be booted off the stage in the U.S.
    This same trash logic has been used to persecute every minority in history.

  40. October 8, 2008 at 18:24

    I’d like to know: Where would the guitar be without Gypsies? Are there rich Gypsies? And what are they like? And how do you spell Romany?


  41. October 8, 2008 at 18:27

    In Trinidad the stories I’ve heard about gypsies are that they are pro conartists, is that true? If someone was conned by a gypsy, why can’t they just warn the wider population?

    Kevin in Trinidad

  42. October 8, 2008 at 18:27

    The reputation of gypsies travels all around the world. Whenever I travel to Spain or Italy I am warned stay away from the gypsies they will cheat you. We have no gypsy population in san francisco but we have the same prejudice against poor black people in this country. We have a group of african americans who stick in poverty have turned to crime and drugs but the whole group gets lumped in together.
    Similar to the fingerprinting of gypsy politicians here have called for all poor people on public assistance be sterilized

  43. 43 Áron
    October 8, 2008 at 18:27

    I’m writing from hungary… The newspaper Magyar Nemzet is a “littlebit more interested in crimes committed by gisies than other newspapers… The articles what the hungarian gentleman is talking about is a fine example how media is responsible for feeding pejudice. If a crime is commited by gipsies it is psichologically significant…if a crime is committed by a hungarian than the national part of the news are not so significant. On the other hand yes there is a big gipsy problem in hungary… the procentige in committed crimes are does not look good for gipsies, BUT stigmatization won’t leed to solutions, only canlize the agression of nationalist people, especially when life gets harder for the masses.
    Bests for all

  44. 44 Dianne in SF
    October 8, 2008 at 18:28

    My mom is Gypsy and we live in Northern California. We often hear stereotypes about Gypsies (they’re dirty, they steal, etc..), but we don’t take it personally because most people have never met a Gypsy. Or at least they don’t think they have.

    But your guest is right. These statements would never be made about others.

    There are Gypsies living all over the U.S., but we don’t introduce ourselves as Gypsies. Most people think we’re Italian or Spanish.

    Remember, Gypsies were also killed during the holocaust, but we don’t have a country, a flag, or a museum! Gypsies aren’t prominent in society; therefore, we remain below the radar screen. Poor, uneducated Gypsies will always be on the receiving end of racism. We don’t have a voice. But we’re here. We’re shopping next to you at your grocery store and eating next to you at your local restaurant.

    We value our culture, but over the years, we’ve integrated into “American” culture.

  45. October 8, 2008 at 18:28

    Im an UK English teacher in Prague. I feel uninformed about the ’gypsy problem’ despite living in a city with more that its fairshare of such issues. I only ever hear negative opinions about gypsies from my students and in the media here. The main complaint is that gypsies take but give nothing and are criminals. I cannot accept the polarised view here that all gypsies are bad and Im looking forward to hearing some opinions from the source.

    Ando in Prague

  46. 46 John
    October 8, 2008 at 18:28

    The Gipsy community seem to insist we tolerate them, yet how often do they make an effort to integrate with us – very rarely. They live in urban ghettos and treat others suspiciously. If anything the problem is not with Europe’s attitude to gypsies but their attitude to us. However I share their outrage at the fingerprinting of gipsy children in Italy. If this isn’t discriminatory and authoritarianism by the back door, then what is?

  47. 47 Jacob
    October 8, 2008 at 18:30

    Hi guys,
    Im from czech republic, region called Ostravsko. And gypsy problem is quite big there. These people are terrible. Nobody likes them. We were trying to help them… Its not possible. What the hell are you talking about?? Prejudice? Oh god. Open your eyes! Come over and see it. Dont just talk like gypsies are great. They are not at all. You dont have a small ghetto of these people in your neighborhood. Yes, there is a maybe one percent of them who wants to be useful, who wants to live like civilized rest of us. But majority of gipsies simply dont. Their nature is to be free, to steal chicken and live nomadic life. Goverment established a integration program, offered them a work, offered them lots of things. But they refused. They refuse to send children to school, they refuse to work. New houses were built for them. Check what can be done with those houses after five years. Because at start we were giving them electricity and coal for free everything was good and now after few years we stopped, they simply burned their windows, roofs and starter to steal, fights, rapes and more. Only sollution is to sterilize them. Guys… OPEN YOUR EYES!

  48. 48 Anthony
    October 8, 2008 at 18:30

    @ Nikitas

    Well now you’re changing your question. I was stating, like in my first post, that there are groups of people that are “more crafty, dishonest, and just plain “bad” than other groups. This is because of the way they are raised, not specifically because of race.”, which I feel is very true.

    Now you are stating that they have the means to do so. This is seperate, but to answer that, they don’t know how to. I have every tool to built a patio, but guess what, I have NO CLUE on how to. Just like those “ghetto” people don’t know how to better them selves. Because of this, is why they steal more in the U.S. Its a mentality as a result of how they were raised.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  49. October 8, 2008 at 18:30

    I hear a lot of people saying “look at the statistics”
    and “those people.” People taking statistcs (which can prove anything depending on how you ask the question) and jumping to broad GENERALIZATIONS is, AT BEST faullty logic. I am an analyst.


  50. October 8, 2008 at 18:31

    Does being different make you wrong??? Thank God he sent Jesus to break that divide. I’m not a gypsy myself but i am married to a gypsy and we are both christians. In God there is no discrimination or prejudice. Only mankind complicates subjects like this.

    Yvonne from Walsall

  51. 51 Dianne in SF
    October 8, 2008 at 18:31

    At the Holocaust Museum in DC, there’s a small box that basically says, “By the way, the Gypsies were also killed during the Holocaust.” Now move on to the next exhibit.

  52. October 8, 2008 at 18:31

    I’m British but have lived in Poland for many years. Here the label “gypsy” is commonly used interchangeably with “Romanian” in Poland Czech and Slovakia, commonly there is no distinction made between between a person of Romany descent and a person of Romanian nationality, whether or not they are actually a “gypsy”. I feel that the Italian spokesperson from the Northern League is making the same generalisation. Economic migration from Romania in the late 80s and early 90s did include gypsies but the majority were Romanian citizens who would not at all like to be classified as Gypsy. The Gypsy people have been made the scapegoat for all the problems associated with large scale economic migration.

    Owen in Krakow, Poland

  53. 53 Philippa
    October 8, 2008 at 18:31

    Ros, that’s the first time you have sounded naive. I am quite sure it is possible to throw a Molotov cocktail in Italy and not be prosecuted for it. I have a lot of Italian friends and their favorite topic is the downward spiral their country is experiencing, including the near complete breakdown of law and order, especially at the government level.

  54. October 8, 2008 at 18:34

    My grandfather was a Romany gypsy, so I kind of pay attention when I’ve heard things about gypsies. The one negative thing I’ve heard is that crime is associated with gypsy communities.Is this true?I don’t know.I do know if someone wants to commit crhmes and there is a scapegoat,like gypsies,around to be blamed,then that takes the attention away from the person who committed the crime.And anyone who commits a crime is not above lying.Any noncomformist that is noticed stirs up the anthill. People criticize out of crotchety boredom.


  55. 55 Thea Winter - Indianapolis IN, USA
    October 8, 2008 at 18:35

    A question. Are there Gypsys in the United States? I never noticed any.

  56. 56 Lucinda
    October 8, 2008 at 18:35

    I am a third-generation American and do not know of any Gypsies in my area. A number of years ago I spent some time in Kosovo and encountered Gypsies for the first time. The Kosovars avoided the Gypsies as if they were bastard children. I did not understand this, but I don’t think the Kosovars really did either. The situation reminds me of the “problem” of Mexicans here in the US; they too are treated and avoided as if to be bastards. What is quite comical is that I am of Mexican descent and my husband is of Gypsy descent. No wonder we do not feel at home anywhere!

  57. 57 Justin
    October 8, 2008 at 18:36

    In my opinion, the case is: gypsies have problem with them selves.
    Because, I was walking in Reykjavik, three young guys stoped me by asking a lighter, i stoped, they asked where am i from, said lithuania, i asked them where are they from, they said ‘we are from romania, no one likes us’, i said why? they started to laugh loudly, and repeating why.
    I have no problems with them, what nationality anyone is, but this was like a sign, that gypsies accept the stereotype, and they do not want to change it.

  58. 58 Kevin Doolan
    October 8, 2008 at 18:37

    As an American, I have studied and seen racism all of my life; from lessons on slavery and Jim Crow laws to the triumphs of the Civil Rights Movement, to today’s lingering latent prejudices that remain subtle and unspoken if palpable (especially as an African American runs for President).

    Yet never have I observed racism in all of its flagrant ugliness as I did with the treatment of Roma when I lived in Eastern Europe. It was not subtle, it was not hidden — it was brazen and accepted. The Roma were shamelessly treated as though they were a sub-species. Even otherwise rational, educated, decent people acted as though the Roma’s lower standing was a matter of scientific fact, not personal opinion or societal judgment…as though the “gypsys” were wild curs.

    This condition caused tension between my friends as I, as I was appalled and tried to explain the unfairness and the self-fulfilling nature of such condescending and one-dimensional treatment of any group.

    I doubt that any community would choose to live on the outskirts and in the underbelly of society given the chance to integrate, educate and thrive, so the first move towards solution must be to open the minds of Europeans and provide assistance and opportunity. Until that happens, EU human rights organizations will have a difficult time criticizing other similarly-oppressive social structures, like the caste system of India.

    Kevin Doolan
    Chicago, IL

  59. 59 Robert S
    October 8, 2008 at 18:37

    I have travelled much in eastern europe, particularly Bulgaria. I met the Roma during two visits to Berkovitsa – to a town on the outskirts of Berkovitsa. I walked around the town and was welcomed into a home. The kindness I received from the family was absolutely wonderful. I am so sorry that they suffer so much from their fellow (non Roma) citizens. How can we help them, I ask?

  60. 60 Dina Raza
    October 8, 2008 at 18:38

    I think the problem has to be approched in the angle of identity. Gipsy identity becomes problematic for the non-gipsy people because it is not accessible. People know very little things about the gipsies. Gipsy identity deals with a lot o with mystic representations and as the Gipsies are people who come and go, people would attribute to them all the bad representations. For instance as crimes may occur during the period they stay in a place, when they will leave, people would say the criminals are the gipsies because they left, they fled. And as Gipsies don’t stay they can’t prove their wether they commited the crime or not. The problem becomes a Gipsy problem when the Gipsy people suffer from all these accusations, and as they are searching a kind of coherence between their sefl identity and they social identity (which is stigamtised then), they are playing the identity people assign to them. Identity express itself when iteracting with others, and to obtain a certain original status in the global society that’s why Gipsy people might commit crimes.

  61. 61 Matt
    October 8, 2008 at 18:38

    I think that gypsies are the same a the rest of us and have their own religion and practices. To talk about them in such a negative way is nothing short of racism.

    The persucution they suffered during Nazism is despicable and the thought of people being microchipped is symptomatic of this type of thinking.

    We must be aware of this sort of thinking. Why are people being chipped, this is sickening.

  62. 62 Cathy
    October 8, 2008 at 18:38

    Yes, I believe that Europeans do have a probelm with gypsies. Popular media displays negative gypsy images which further pertuates the negative immage which can lead to discrimination and racism.

  63. October 8, 2008 at 18:39

    My brother is married to a Romanian girl and there’s nothing her family hate more than gypsies. He was violently mugged last year by a group of gypsies of 13, 14. When I go to visit them in Bucharest I am always warned against them. They are feared and despised by the local population. I am Irish and a liberal person, but the gypsies seem to me, their worse enemies. They neither work, nor want to work and here in England they are a major disruption to all local developments. Do they even pay tax? Or are they just after freebies wherever they can find them?


  64. 64 Yiannis
    October 8, 2008 at 18:40

    I would like some comments on what I perceive to be the fundamental problem (in my view).

    From my understanding, Roma economic culture/typical activity is based on a vast ability to keep costs to zero and aim to effectively arbitrage every opportunity, be it through recycling and trade and when taken to the extreme, potentially in more unlawful aspects we are bombarded with by the media, the simplest example being say professional begging, stealing apartement-block window frames (as in most of apartment blocks in Naples have experienced), to more sinister ones and all in scale. Ethics aside, it is money for nothing and an efficient model if it were socially accepted.

    I wonder how it can be possible to integrate/accomodate/accept this culture in such a rigid socio-economic structure as we currently have in Europe? I think that is what makes the lifestyle incompatible and if I were Roma, it would similarly seem unreasonable to give up this cultural freedom I have inherited for something so restrictive.

    So I think there is a problem and it cannot be solved unless the culture is absorbed as a whole or vice versa.

    I can think examples of the first and second case. They include certain areas in Spain (better integration and cultural interchange) to the other extreme of Greece or Italy where there is nearly none, even if attempts are made.

    Would appreciate the views of your guests on this.

  65. October 8, 2008 at 18:40

    Roma are not seen as equal human beings, worthy of equal respect and dignity by most Europeans. This is a parallel to anti-Semitism, which Europe has worked hard to overcome since WWII and the Holocaust (which also included over half a million Romani victims).

    With respect to the Italian Northern League’s representative, one needs to know that

    a) the Northern League activists (contrary to what Nicoletta said) in Venice stopped the construction of homes for Roma from former Yugoslavia, despite the local progressive mayor’s policies of housing integration.

    b) Meredith Kerchner’s murder in Italy last year was covered in full by both Italian and British press, but when a Romani woman was alleged to have kidnapped an Italian child, there was absolutely no impartial investigation. Romani people are not seen as human beings, worthy of the same respect and dignity.

    c) Roma are not illegals, many are war refugees from the break-up of former Yugoslavia, who under Tito, worked regularly contributing to their country. When Roma are given a chance, they integrate into the communities in which they live.

    Nidhi (UCL)

  66. 66 Cheryl
    October 8, 2008 at 18:42

    I used to work as a banquet waiter for a large downtown hotel here in the US. At one point we began booking Gypsey wedding banquets. They were the most culturally unique experiences I’ve ever had. They behaved outside of many of the norms practiced by my culture. They valued personal strength, assertiveness bordering on aggression, independence, and never took, “no” for an answer. The most foreign thing I witnessed was children as young as two smoking and drinking alcohol. Apparently, many more problems than benefits arose from this partnership and we stopped doing business with them.

    The hotel staff engaged in a firestorm of gossip for many months afterwards, much of which I found hard to believe and took with a grain of salt. I tried to learn more at the library about their culture but could only learn that they were secretive and mistrustful, rarely admitting outsiders into their inner circle. History supports their animosity. Why are your guests willing to speak about their culture in this public format?

  67. October 8, 2008 at 18:42

    The statistical assertions from the Italian woman from the Northern League need further examination in a more detached follow up programme looking at why certain Italian politicians are focussing on gypsies. It is all too easy for statistics to be paraded as “facts” when taken out of contextand potentially dangerous to leave these assertions hanging in the air.

    Tom in the UK

  68. October 8, 2008 at 18:43

    Thank you for this show. When you say, “gypsy,” what do i see? Either the cinematic romantic Romany life–lamplit caravans settling for a brief stay on the outskirts of a European town.

    But my only personal interaction with gypsies has come on the streets of Italian cities, especially Rome, where gangs of quite young children rustled paper in my face while they tried to slip my wallet from my purse, or chased me around a fountain trying to grab my backpack. Italy is a tourist country, Rome is a tourist city–is it surprising that there is prejudice based on these very public behaviors?

    It sounds like Romany people would benefit from more exposure to the world of their law-abiding, educated citizenry. And of having those members of their society increase their efforts to help and organize others living less stable lives.

    Francesca from San Srancisco

  69. 69 John in Scotland
    October 8, 2008 at 18:44

    In Britain who are the gypsies ? …or are there travellers who are not really gypsies .?

    Having lived in a caravan for the last few years I can understand how they feel. People relate to you differently if your not in a house . I know 2 travellers who were actually quite well off and so they tried a house and a year later went back to a caravan .

    I think there is probably a freedom that they have ,which in many ways people are jealous of. Also because they are ‘ outsiders,wherever they go they will suffer from distrust.

    Ironically though I think more people will be opting for the caravan lifestyle because they wont be able to get a mortgage.

    One thing though they could do to improve their PR is to take the rubbish to the dump. Here on the common we get loads of gypsies /travellers …and they always leave their rubbish nappies and all.

  70. October 8, 2008 at 18:44

    As a gypsy and also a born again christian I feel that people are racist against me no matter what I do…

    Mandi in the UK

  71. 71 Albert (Malta)
    October 8, 2008 at 18:44

    I live with a lovely girlfriend who is from a gypsy family in the UK. She has qualities that are unique and valuable; probably dervived from her unique upbringing. I’m a public schoolboy, from a wealthy family – I am so glad that I don’t feel the prejudice that exists towards gypsies in England, and elsewhere no doubt.

  72. 72 GB
    October 8, 2008 at 18:45

    @ Anthony

    Higher levels of incarceration are not indicative that blacks and Hispanics commit crimes to a greater extent than any other group. Neither would a higher arrest rate, for that matter. While the relationships may demonstrate some correlation, they do not establish causality.

  73. 73 Franciska Hajdamar
    October 8, 2008 at 18:46

    I lived in Budapest for 30 years. My parents lived just outside the city and every day they had to walk bye a few gipsy shacks or tents to go home. The city put up a few houses for them to live there for free. just days later there were more gypsies living in the houses besause they came there for the free living. Soon there were more and more cramped in those houses. If you don’t see your parents work, then you won’t work either. They steal and they expect everything without pay because they are the minority. give me a break!

  74. October 8, 2008 at 18:48

    I am an American married to a Croatian. We travel there annually and I can say that at least in Croatia they are still looked upon as outsiders and definitely in a negative way. I think one of the issues is when you have a mostly homogenous culture and a minority group that does not want or is unable to assimilate this problem will exist. The distrust on both sides is evident and there are historical reasons for it, but until people are willing to step forward on both sides and risk changing their paradigm, nothing will change. In America we have plenty of racial issues of our own to deal with but most of us do realize that the problem exists. That is always the first step.


  75. 75 Kunal (San Francisco)
    October 8, 2008 at 18:48

    Do the Roma have a common voice? If so, what are their desires and wants for the future?

    Funny, but where they are at this point of time reminds me of Jewish people spread out all over Europe pre-WWII, the prejudices and the biases against them as well!

  76. October 8, 2008 at 18:49

    The gypsies in Italy became a “front page” problem only with the last electoral competition, when the old trick of creating fear for a non existing enemy was again used by the right.

    Andrea – Italian living in Naples

  77. 77 Stephen
    October 8, 2008 at 18:49

    I’ve been in Spain for a month now and I have come across Gypsies on numerous occasions. In highly touristed areas they try handing people on the street lavender. If you accept it, they refuse to take it back and make you give them a few euros in exchange for the lavender. They also do a bit of honest begging and selling their wares in plazas and once again more touristy areas.
    From my limited contact with them a lot of Gypsies are making a bad name for themselves by living up to their stereotype and reputation. Selling handicrafts and other goods is a perfectly good trade, but people only remember the bad apples gypping people on the street.

  78. October 8, 2008 at 18:51

    Please please please….

    Call them by their proper name:
    Roma. There are various spellings. Some may call themselves the colloquial name of Gypsies. Thank you for the woman calling them Romany. It is the correct name. Thank you.

    Kathryn from Oregon in the US

  79. 79 Anthony
    October 8, 2008 at 18:53

    @ GB

    It doesn’t necessarily, but I think you, deep in your heart, know that it is true. Even if that wasn’t true, I still have hung out with Whites, Asians, Hispanics, and Blacks, and I can tell you, that generally speaking, a black and Hispanic is more likely to steal than an Asian or white. It’s a mentality, and a White or Asian has more fear of the consequences. Personally, while in retain management, we had to fire about 5 people (just at my stores) for stealing. 4 were black, and one was Hispanic (one of those being ¾ black and ¼ Hispanic).

    You can say that there are no correlations all you want, but it’s true, and if you hung out with those kinda people in California, you’d agree with me.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  80. October 8, 2008 at 18:59

    If you substituted the word “gypsy” with any other economically disadvantaged minority you would hear the same things being said all over the world.
    The problems are not the gypsies – the problems are discrimination, economic repression and marginalization. The negative self image that is perpetuated among their own culture as well as the cultures they live among is everyone’s responsibility to overcome.

    John in Salem

  81. October 8, 2008 at 18:59

    Growing up in the USA in the 1960s, gypsies were the height of fashion. I never realized how ingrained the European prejudices against gypsies were until I headed to school one morning, dressed in my best gypsy style, thinking I looked great. My father, who grew up in Imperial Austria, refused to let me out of the house, horrified that I “looked like a gypsy”.

    Portland, OR, USA

  82. October 8, 2008 at 19:00

    I live in Houston TX and have no experience w/ gypsy but I am amazed by all of the paralells between the black population in US and Roma population in Europe.


  83. October 8, 2008 at 19:01

    Not all people are prejudiced. I am very glad we find out a person’s prejudice so easily,because we can know to avoid them. It is an economic and social problem. These take a long time to work out in any situation. With any race or differentness from the majority,there are problems to be solved. A lack of compassion and too much fear or closed mindedness are stumblingblocks in society.


  84. 84 Mark
    October 8, 2008 at 19:04

    Nikitas, thank you for proving my point for me so quickly just as so many others here have. If I were of North African descent born in France, a French citizen, had a PHD but couldn’t get a job because my name was Mohammed and my skin was black, I don’t think I’d be proud to be French either. You can hardly blame the ethnic minorities for their attitudes towards the “main stream” in light of the way they are treated all their lives in Europe. I know you don’t get it. Europeans I’ve met never do. Not one European here said we have a problem, lets study it, understand it and fix it. Europeans will have this problem forever and it will eat at their societies like a cancer. I saw it first hand for myself during nearly two years of living in Europe. Very ugly. I was glad to go home when the time came. I’d had enough for a lifetime.

  85. October 8, 2008 at 19:07

    Dear Ros,

    I am listening as I write. The whole programme has made me so sad. I have memories of Gypsy people in Durham City in the 1970s, which are very precious to me. I was at a Conference, doing a workshop, and the Gypsies and Travellers came to the “Sands” in Durham with their “shows” and entertainments. We asked permission to photograph them and I was invited in to their home. I met the grandmother and talked about how she had “never used paint nor powder” and how “our children are our life”. I wish we still had that. We have not shared tonight the history of the Gypsies and not much else positive. Please give my greetings and respect to the Romany people whom you interviewed.

    Best Wishes,

  86. 86 Jessica in NYC
    October 8, 2008 at 19:08

    Hi Jackie Boyd and Jake,

    Thanks for this show, hands down it’s one of the best WHYS shows I have heard.

    I am truly flabbergasted at the racist comments I heard on air today. But more astounding were the people trying to justify their discriminatory beliefs despite the evidence and statistics given on air. Good job and thank you for your insights into Europe’s race relations. My sympathy for your plight, it is deeply troubling.

    Jackie as you rightly pointed out in an other page:
    ”What would the world say if you changed the name ‘Gypsy’ to ‘Muslim’, ‘Pakistani’, ‘Jew’, or ‘Arab’?””

    You can. We face these issues here in the United State, here the word “gypsy” is substituted for other minorities like Black or Hispanic or Immigrants and so on. Different parts of the US focus their racism and xenophobia on different groups. Unfortunately, these problems don’t look like there is an end in sight.

  87. 87 Antonio M. Graca
    October 8, 2008 at 19:10

    May be here in Portugal we have a different way of looking at gipsys. Matter of fact I, who I am not a gipsy, my first love was a gipsy girl. She was the most beautiful girl I’ve had seen so far, and she was 17. I was 4 years old then, but still today, at 66, I still remember her, and her beauty. Obviously an impossible love, but I’ve known of a few mixed marriages with much less problems, than marriages between others sectors of people, and much less divorces either.
    Just for the record, one of the most expensive football transfers this year in Portugal, a player called Quaresma went to play at Inter of Milano, for a fair fortune.He is a gipsy. Does anybody care? Not in Portugal, for sure.

    Antonio M Graca

  88. 88 Mark
    October 8, 2008 at 19:50

    Jessica in NYC, I am the one who posts all over BBC that he detests Europe and Europeans, not for who they are but for what they are. And among other things, they are blind to themselves. That means they will never change. They are so full of themselves, they think they are so smart they will not hesitate for one second to tell everyone else what to do, what to think, and how to live but when someone like me tells them what I think of them, look out, there will be a tirade of fury from them. They don’t want to hear even one dissenting voice expressing the worthlessness of their civilization. A truly despicable lot.

    It is a sobering thought that the Europeans who left to emigrate to America over the centuries were like the Gypsies are today, seen largely the dregs of societies they left, spat upon, looked down upon, belittled, humiliated, their lives viewed as all but worthless. Slavs, Jews, peasants, the lower classes, the untermenchen. We, their decendands are their revenge on Europe. What and who we are is everything they hold in contempt and are not. We are in a real sense their antithesis. And how fittingly ironic that of all their art, among the highest, opera, the one they and the world love the most is “Carmen” whose central character is a Gypsy girl.

  89. 89 bjay
    October 8, 2008 at 19:53

    If the ‘fruit-flies’ would be your next door neighbor, wouldn’t be wise to looking out for your garden?
    But of course, some might be not vegeterian.com.
    Sorry if I’m not always full of courtesy; I do apologies to those.

    bjay connotation with accent

  90. 90 adam
    October 8, 2008 at 19:54

    I can understand why to an outsider it seems as though these negative comments seem to be painted with broad brush strokes. To someone who isn’t familiar with the real situation, certain parallels could be easily inferred to WWII and the civil rights movement. Racism is certainly a terrible thing in any form. However, this is a cultural issue and not at all a racial or religious one. The fundamental difference between Roma and indigenous cultures is inherent value system in my opinion. As a nomadic people, Roma believe that whatever they can gain by taking advantage of people’s hospitality, good will, or stupidity is earned. Oppositely, other cultures believe that it is necessary to cooperate and maintain a sense of community and order for society to work. To those who live a nomadic lifestyle or are of Gypsy heritage- I have nothing against you- provided you are an honest person and contribute to society. What has happened in Italy is very sad, but only a symptom of a greater problem surrounding Roma people and their role in the European community.

  91. 91 Katharina in Ghent
    October 8, 2008 at 19:58

    @ Mark

    This is so funny, coming from an American (apparently). In your first paragraph, you could switch “Europe/ean” with “America/n” and you would get an exact picture of what many Europeans think about the US and its citizens.If you call yourself the”revenge on Europe”, then clearly you must mean the subprime mortgage crisis with all its consequences.

    We Europeans are not perfect, and we are the first to admit this. All we ask from immigrants is that they learn the language, send their kids to school, get a job and don’t mess up their neighborhood. Is that asking so much, and don’t people in the US ask the same of their immigrants?

  92. 92 robert1987
    October 8, 2008 at 20:05

    @ Mark

    You could say that about all the countries

  93. 93 adam
    October 8, 2008 at 20:11

    pure American solipsism and misplaced unintelligible rage…..you embarrass me. To generalise Europeans thusly is not only ignorant but hypocritical as well.

  94. 94 Just A Thought, 'Out-of-the-Box' Land,
    October 8, 2008 at 20:47

    pure American solipsism and misplaced unintelligible rage…..you embarrass me. To generalise Europeans thusly is not only ignorant but hypocritical as well.”

    Can we add male menopause as well?!

  95. 95 GB
    October 8, 2008 at 21:37

    @ Mark

    Why are you appealing to my emotions once I have pointed out the flaw in your statement/assessment. My heart or even “deep in [my]…heart” has nothing to do with it.

    What do you think about the following statement – since white men have ambition they commit white collar crimes and certainly can’t be trusted with our money. While there may (or may not ) be some correlation, it is equally as ignorant as your claim. Your personal experience, while not irrelevant, does not give you the right to stereotype an entire race.

    FYI, I have spent quite a bit of time with persons from different ethnic and racial backgrounds and my experience contravenes yours.

  96. 96 GB
    October 8, 2008 at 21:52

    @ Mark

    I apologize that response should not have been directed at you.

    @ Anthony, LA, CA

    I mistakenly addressed my rebuttal to Mark but should have directed it to you.

  97. 97 Anthony
    October 8, 2008 at 21:59

    @ GB

    Not appealing to your emotions. I use that statement differently I guess.

    You’re not getting my point:
    If you put a Black or Hispanic man in front of you, he is more likely to have stolen than a White or Asian. Go ahead and say this is untrue, but that would be very naive. Its funny, but some people think that facts like that are racist. 🙂

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  98. 98 Jessica in NYC
    October 8, 2008 at 22:19

    @ Mark

    I’m not sure where to begin. I acknowledge some of these issues are condoned by society in some aspects. However, do you not see that the same bigotry spouted by the commentators/speakers and some posters on this blog is the same as what you said? I hate to resort to a grade school “lesson” we all learned, but maybe basics are in order. Two wrongs does not equal a right.

    As someone who has been the focus of racism/bigotry/discrimination, I would never return the “hatred”, because the whole race is not to blame for “some” people’s ignorance. Give me a bad apple in ANY ethnic/religious group and I can find you a dozen good ones. Also, keep in mind that many times stereotypes exist within out own cultures. Think of the class discrimination against people with less economic means.

  99. 99 Robert
    October 8, 2008 at 23:03

    I have been working with Eastern European Roma communities living in London for around three years now. My experience as a person who interacts with Roma people is, sadly, very negative. Majority of them (and I am not generalising) claim to be single mother in order to receive benefits they are not entitled to. Although many of them have not worked in the UK a single day they receive disability allowance, child credits and other state benefits. Far too many of them live in council houses and still rent rooms to new-comers and do not disclose thei income. No surprise they drive £20,000 new cars they purchase back home. These people abuse the system in every possible way. They do not contribute to their respective communities in any way. Someone say I exaggerate but this is an honest opinion of a professional official who’s been dealing with Polish and Eastern European Roma people on a daily basis. Only minority of them is different to the above description.

  100. 100 Mark
    October 8, 2008 at 23:58

    Funny how some Europeans don’t like being all lumped together when they are so fast to lump Americans as one. And what happened to that Common European EU culture, you know the one we hear about all the time. Funny, from my perspective there are far more similarities than differences among them. At least in the opinions that matter to me in forming an opinion of them.

    Jessica in NYC, you are making the same nonsensical liberal mistake liberals and Europeans made trying to imply an equivalence between us and the USSR during the cold war. We are not like Europeans, we don’t think the way they do, we don’t see the world or life through the same eyes they see it though and thank goodness for that or we would be them. Compared to us they are social Neanderthals. They have not really progressed in thousands of years. It was only in the last few decades with the greatest of difficulty that the French and Germans stopped hating and trying to kill each other, at least openly. You forget I lived among them for nearly two years. Ever hear the old saying one bad apple will spoil the whole barrel? Well, that barrel of rotten apples has been around a lot longer than either of us. No, I am not them, they are not me. And when they come here, many bring that psychological baggage with them. Acceptable there, not acceptable here.

  101. 101 Caer, Australia
    October 9, 2008 at 05:14

    As last night’s programme (my time) was so very negative about Roma folk in very general and broad brushstrokes, how about a second airing, highliting the contrast of those of my kinfolk who have not only contributed to society, but made it better for both the Gypsy and the non-Gypsy alike?

    There ARE two sides to every coin.
    Dr. Caer H.

  102. 102 Matt
    October 9, 2008 at 06:07

    Acclimating to the dominant culture would facilitate the acceptance of the Roma, or any other group.
    Not acclimating will do the opposite.

  103. 103 Maina
    October 9, 2008 at 09:26

    I have no experience or contact with gypsy people that i know of but their lifestyle sounds somewhat similar to the Masai people of East Africa. I think targeting a particular community for focused surveillance or monitoring is wrong. The Masai enrich East African society with their culture and tradition and their knowledge of traditional medicine is proving even more valuable. there is a lot to be learned from people who are different.

  104. October 9, 2008 at 11:08

    the world is dominated by only pretenders,you hear such guys mainly in UN talk about the girl child and blabla,the boy child etc,yet when these children grow up,its when these pretenders suddenly discover that they have an identity in their roots where they come from.ie gypsy,immigrant,minorities etc.

  105. 105 Maurizio
    October 9, 2008 at 16:18

    Sadly, I must agree with Robert from London.
    I am 48 years old and when I was a child I clearly remember gypies doing exquisite works like working leather, copper, bronze and silver. They were very good in their trade.
    They were Italian, French, Yugoslav Romany.
    Then the Berlin Wall came crumbling down.
    Now Europe is flooded with “assumed” Romany who hold passports from Romania, Moldova, Uzbekistan, Iran you name it… but they’re not true Romany, they’re gypsies, pure and simple.
    There’s a difference between the Romany and the Gypsies.
    The Romany have a history and a heritage.
    They will arrange their daughter’s wedding but they would never push her into prostitution.
    They will keep true to their code of honor but would never peddle drugs or run a child beggar ring.
    Unfortunately, the gypsies you see today do these things.
    There’s no dignity ni running child beggar rings, selling your daughter into prostitution or running other criminal organizations.
    When caught, they will produce more passports than days of the week, and you never know whom you’re talking to.
    They have no fixed residence, other than the most exopensive trailers pulled by the most expensive cars.
    But where they get their money from, nobody knows.
    Maurizio, age 48, Rome, Italy

  106. 106 Lucy Norman
    October 9, 2008 at 19:31

    Do ‘we’ have a gypsy problem? Who is we, pray tell? I have a problem with the Northern League in Italy who are considered by many to be a bunch of Fascists and your programme has said nothing about their reputation! It is as if you were giving free rein to the BNP without acknowledging that they are considered to be right-wing extremists or out and out Fascists. The Northern League hold rallies in order to denounce foreigners. That is their claim to fame. Read your own website, BBC, before you present representatives from Italy’s Northern League as if they weren’t themselves considered by many to be beyond the pale…

  107. 107 Caer, Australia
    October 10, 2008 at 03:41

    Lucy Norman, I applaud you!

  108. 108 Ronnie Almeida
    October 10, 2008 at 07:47

    The problem with human ‘Democrazy’is we wont let creatures unlike the majority of us ‘Middle Crass’ sheep their freedom to be unique.

  109. 109 Jack Hughes
    October 10, 2008 at 09:52


    Is it the job of the BBC to “frame” people om their programmes as being “OK” or “not OK” ?

    Who should decide ? What kind of views are “correct” ?

  110. 110 Lucy Norman
    October 10, 2008 at 15:55

    Who said anything about ‘correct’ views, Jack? To take your argument back to you, the BBC ‘framed’ the debate by not putting anyone else on from Italy who did not agree with the ‘Northern League’. The World Service has a remit to inform. If you’re putting on a programme promising to look at whether there is a problem or a problem of perception with one group of people (Gypsies) and you don’t properly identify the main critics of those same people (the Northern League) that you have invited on that programme, then you are misleading the public. World Have Your Say chose to put them on, said all sorts of things about Gypsies, but nothing about the Northern League. I am all for countering that omission.

    This is from the BBC’s own website:

    “When a mother and son were violently hacked to death in his town, the surviving daughter blamed an Albanian immigrant.

    The Northern League immediately organised a huge anti-immigrant rally.

    But it had to be suddenly cancelled with the shocking news that the murderer was not an immigrant but the 16-year-old daughter herself.

    “For the League this fear of immigration is a crucial issue which they say is real. They are obviously trying to exploit it to the full in this election campaign,” says the mayor of Novi Ligure, Mario Lovelli.”

  111. 111 Jack Hughes
    October 11, 2008 at 06:05

    Hi Lucy,

    An impartial intro to the NL bloke would be something like this:

    Here is Mister X from the Italian party the Northern Alliance. They recently did Y. [or Their policy is Z]

    In other words, just the facts. The listener can decide to like or dislike him – or to pigeon-hole him.

    How would you introduce him ?

  112. 112 Shakhoor Rehman
    October 11, 2008 at 10:59

    We do not have a “gypsy problem”. We have a problem with people who think there is.

  113. 113 Robert
    October 16, 2008 at 02:44

    If abusing the system including benefits is not a problem … there is no problem then …

  114. 114 alfredo
    October 30, 2008 at 02:42

    Gypsies in Italy are 90% criminals. They are the ones that rob homes and pick pocket tourists. Sorry, but that is the fact.

  115. 115 david
    February 6, 2009 at 22:20

    My name is David.
    I’am a gypsy living in the uk. We have lived here since before the saxons ever came to these shores. we do not rob we do not mug we do not brake in to homes. we just want to be left alone. the real problem with the world is that if your govrment tells you to live a certin way and behave a certin way and one group says no we will live how we want free from debt. free from watching our children get bullyed and made outkast in schools becase there frome another race, then anyone else have a free pass to make there life hell.
    but heres the thing if we are living so poorly and undrer so much presur to mix in to what you would call normle, then why dont we?
    We dont becase even with the hatred and the crulty frome the hands of the police and others we still have something that no other race will have in less that a hundred years. we will still have our own way of life and freedom.

    PS ask your self what did ure grandfathers fight for in the second world war if not so there children could live free.

  116. 116 amy
    February 16, 2009 at 01:12

    DAVID –

    Romani people are a different race??? I though you were caucasian? … like most of the rest of the UK.

    I noticed you can’t spell either.

    That is another thing I dislike about gypsies – go to school. It’s free! Without a high school degree, how can you possibly make an HONEST living. Come on now.

  117. 117 Marie
    April 2, 2009 at 00:33

    hey you lot my father and all before were romany,we are proud and we didnt need school.Cos we cooool

  118. 118 Amit Agarwal
    April 5, 2009 at 13:15

    Saying that the gypsies came from India is the same as saying that Europeans came from Africa 🙂 and surely the Europeans did actually come from Africa if you were to believe in Darwin’s Theory. For the gypsies, lets assume that there had some Indian connection, but even then they could not have come from India and settled down in Europe 10 centuries ago. So logically, these people would have probably come from North Africa, Middle-east ancestry who had links to India at most. Moreover, today’s gypsies don’t have anything in common with Indian values, culture, religion, language etc. It is the European propaganda for the gypsies to make them believe that they were ALIENS and didn’t actually belong to Europe.
    Surely, these people are severely discriminated in Central Europe-Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Croatia, Ukraine etc and the world turns a blind eye to it coz we presume that such crimes cant take place in developed nations of EU member countries. To clarify, I am neither supporting the gypsies nor the Europeans – coz its their problem and they need to learn to deal with it coz if they ignore the problem today, It will strike them tomorrow. There are two solutions – complete the visionary “final solution” defined by Hitler and exterminate them (I am sure the world wont turn a blind eye if this happens) or uplift these people by providing them better education, health care and make more efforts to integrate them into the society.

  119. July 15, 2009 at 04:05

    I will agree with Anthony. I am moving at this time out of this neighborhood that borders many housing projects.
    They all think “ghetto image” is a cool image?
    Street Poverty thinking due to education, ghetto assimilation, no positive adult role models in their homes.
    Drugs, alcohol, guns, sex, power, materialism and low education loads their thinking as the norm of society as they know it.
    I’ve tried to assimilate here as a white 51 yr male. Can’t be done-My wife and I are leaving. Never to return to living among such a population again.

  120. 120 marian
    October 27, 2009 at 22:00

    i have passed through all comments. I think not all people who posted here make distinction between romanians and gypsies@romany. They are not the same people. Romany is a term used in our days to inclusion gypsies through unorthodox means into Romanian society – i mean through creating confusion that Romania is the country were they should be sent. As romanian I can say that gypsies promotes opulence and dual judgement regarding crimes commited by them agains gypsies and nongypsy. We (romanians) consider it is time to standardize this confusion at international level.

  121. 121 marian
    October 27, 2009 at 22:11

    Romania has a problem with gypsies. Some people are trying to forcefully inclusion gypsies into romanian society through changing their ethnonim into “rom”. This action legitimize european countries in sending all nomad people with or without identification cards mostly gypsy people into Romania. I have read all comments and most of the people do not make distinction between romanians and gypsies/romany because of the confusion created.

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