Berlin overcomes Anti-Gypsism

December 12, 2009 at 12:42 Leave a comment

On 2nd of December Germany’s “Different People. One Europe!” partners Amaro Drom, MediaRroma and RAA from Berlin held their first workshop in the context of campaigning actions, called “Berlin overcomes Anti-Gypsism”. The workshop targeted local non-Roma residents and authorities. It took place in new Nazareth church in the district of Wedding, where in the summer of 2009 Roma families from Romania had been sleeping outside in the park around the church. The story of “Masses of Roma coming to Berlin to steal and ask for public money” circulated for weeks in all newspapers and fueled deep anti-Roma stereotypes of the population in Berlin. Subsequently, the discussions with the people living around the church, with the congregation itself and with the local authorities were very tense.

The workshop began with a theoretical explanation of Anti-Gypsism, where it comes from and which function it has in the construction of cultural and national identities in German society. The presentation was given by Markus End, sociologist and researcher on Anti-Gypsism at the Berlin Institute of Anti-Semitism research, who published a book on Anti-Gypsism in spring 2009.

The second part was a screening of “Stereotypes 1” a video by the young Roma Jugendkulturlosten-Group from Berlin-Neukölln, led by Zvonko Salijevic. In June 2009 they were interviewing people on the street asking why they think people say “Roma are thieves, nomads, looking for the easy way of life and making such good music”. The video is completed with reports of young Roma about discrimination they have confronted in school and the question “what do people think, where do they hide their personal Anti-Gypsism?” After the 15 minute video, the approximately 35 participants separated into 5 smaller discussion groups to explore the question “how Anti-Gypsism is appearing in everyday life and how we can overcome it”. The discussion groups were guided by pairs of Roma and Non-Roma activists from Berlin.


For the break, project assistants Milena Ademovic, Maria Klessman and other activists offered a delightful buffet of traditional (“Roma”) food from Serbia. The third and final part of the 4-hour workshop was the screening of the fiction film “to each his own”, which was first running at Berlins Berlinale-festival this year in February. The film by Stefan Schaller is a tale of discrimination, integration and belated reparation.

In 2010, the partners are planning to apply further the workshop model monthly in Berlin and other localities in Germany, where Anti-Gypsy stereotypes have manifested into open harassment against Roma or other marginalized native communities. The workshops shall introduce the social problem of biased perception of Roma through the majority (Anti-Gypsism) and initiate a dialogue on how to overcome the deeply rooted stereotypes, which may easily lead to attacks and open oppression of groups identified as Gypsies by the major society.

For more information, contact Christoph Leucht
One Europe! Campaign contact for Germany

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