Die böse Realität des
The Evil Reality of Antiziganism
By Marko D. Knudsen
for the II. International Antiziganism Conference
Dulsberg-Sued 4 , D – 22049 Hamburg, Phone: + 49 179 7507848
Email: Antiziganismus@email.de , www.EZAF.org
The Evil Reality of Antiziganism
Antiziganism has to be understood as an instrument of stigmatisation, whose
intent is not to observe and understand the circumstances of the “other” side,
but to find elements of identification that legitimate separation and other
discriminative actions against those “others”. Antiziganism is uttered freely
and unfiltered by the majority society.
Thus, it hardly matters if a community of “Gypsies” has been living nearby for
decades – their neighbours still consider them “Nomads”. 657 years ago, the Roma
entered the continent together with the Turks during the Osman Empire’s invasion
of Europe. This is probably the reason why they were initially feared and
distrusted – a notion that remained in the European consciousness and has been
nourished until our present day,
Europe’s Cultural Heritage
Antiziganism can be considered as a kind of European cultural heritage. Already
during childhood, the individual is faced with the decision:
a. do I form and stand to my own opinion, thus questioning the values and
prejudice of my own parents, or
b. do I believe what my parents tell me.
Of course, most people unquestioningly follow the views of their parents,
because they are the instance of truth for all children. This manner of relaying
values, traditions and prejudice from one generation to the next has been
apparent in all European countries and in all social classes for centuries.
“The great breadth of a nation falls for a big lie much easier than for a small
This “tradition” manifests itself in a mental as well as palpable inner-social
declaration of enemy status against those who are not supposed to be assimilated
The majority society legitimates its antiziganistic behaviour against the Roma
and Sinti, because the individuals see their own actions and attitudes in a
subjectively logical context that is shared by the whole society:
Historical Antiziganistic Persecutions:
• 15th – 16th century: Antiziganistic laws
• 16th – 19th century: Marking and killing
• 16th – 21st century: Deportations and Resettlements
• 20th – 21st century: Gypsy Offices, Adoptions, Sterilisations
The Curse of ANTIZIGANISM
The fact is generally ignored that the Roma managed to survive for more than
1000 years in a hostile environment only because of their exceptional ability
for assimilation and integration. With this, they weathered prejudice and
Antiziganism, the resulting discrimination, racism and – at the end of the
spiral – murder, and the historical genocide during the Nazi era and in Kosovo.
Antiziganism has left the Roma and their fellow groups crippled, both physically
and psychologically; only worried about survival, feeding the hunger for food
and not the one for knowledge. Poverty through exclusion, this is the result of
the systematic Antiziganism in Europe: 12 to 15 million people neglected and
ignored by a society that does not want them and considers itself right to hold
Antiziganism or Antigypsyism
The European Center for Antiziganism Research will use the term Antiziganism in
its international, English-language work, thus refraining from the term
Antigypsyism. We decided against the commonly used English term, because it only
refers to the Roma (“Gypsies”) in English-speaking territories like Great
Britain and Ireland, while the rest of Europe uses closely related terms like “Zigeuner”,
“Cigan”, “Cingany”, “Tsigange” etc.
Thus, the linguistic root “Zigan-“ is better suited for usage in a
terminological definition for the entirety of Europe, the term “Antiziganism”
allowing an identification of the problem on a national as well as international
level. For example, a Rumanian might not make a direct connection between the
word “Antigypsyism” and the “Tsigans” in his homeland.
The term “Antigypsyism” therefore only makes sense in the context of the
special, national Antiziganism in the English-speaking territories of Europe.
Antiziganism prevents equal treatment and therefore every attempt of
integration, tolerance or assimilation of the Roma into the majority society of
the respective states they are living in, although they are their rightful
citizens. Because of Antiziganism, the Roma in all of Europe lack the protection
of their basic democratic rights, especially the right for equal treatment,
which should be codified in every democratic constitution.
In Europe, everybody is equal – but the “Gypsies” are nothing.
“There is no greater merit than freeing an oppressed nation.”