Hindus are critical of His Holiness Pope Francis for not raising the issue of European Roma (Gypsy) apartheid in his addresses to European Parliament and Council of Europe in Strasbourg (France) on November 25.
No mention was reportedly made to the apartheid faced by about 15-million Roma people of Europe in Pope’s speeches to these leading bodies of Europe.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that condition of Roma had most of the signs of apartheid and it was happening right under Pope’s nose in Europe. Hindus had repeatedly appealed him in the past to openly embrace Roma cause and come up with a White Paper on their plight but without any success.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, noted that alarming condition of Roma people was a social blight for Europe and the rest of the world as they reportedly regularly faced social exclusion, racism, substandard education, hostility, joblessness, rampant illness, inadequate housing, lower life expectancy, unrest, living on desperate margins, language barriers, stereotypes, mistrust, rights violations, discrimination, marginalization, appalling living conditions, prejudice, human rights abuse, racist slogans on Internet, etc.
Rajan Zed stated that Jesus Christ clearly told the world to help the helpless, defenseless and downtrodden and love them and he showed the way also. Pope, being the claimed representative of God on earth, should voice against continuous Roma maltreatment. Pope should recognize, acknowledge and affirm the Roma as children of God who deserved to be treated like all other people—as equals.
Zed quoted from The Bible: “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9:36)”. It was a sin to silently watch Roma suffer day after day for the last about 1200 years and not do anything about it, Zed indicated.
Rajan Zed stressed that besides the absence of any serious efforts at their inclusion, Roma were being used as “punch bag” and blamed for the social ills of Europe and many politicians even exploited segregation to their political advantage. European neglect was trapping Roma in cycles of persecution and poverty. It was very shocking, reprehensible, hazardous and immoral. Being the biggest religious leader in the world, it was Pope’s moral obligation to make efforts to stop frequent human rights violations suffered by Roma. Zed offered help to Pope, if asked, to support the Roma cause.