Hindus & Jews urge Pope to undertake cause of Roma of Czech Republic during his September visit

Hindus and Jews have asked Pope Benedict to take-up the cause of Roma people of Czech Republic during his upcoming apostolic journey on September 26-28, who they said were facing apartheid like conditions.


Rajan Zed, acclaimed Hindu statesman; and Rabbi Jonathan B. Freirich, prominent Jewish leader in Nevada and California in USA; in a joint statement in Nevada today, said that Roma people in Czech Republic reportedly faced violent attacks, stereotyping, racism, prejudice, growing gap between Roma and other Czechs, fear, beatings, poor quality housing, systemic employment and overall discrimination, persecution, throwing of Molotov cocktails, social exclusion, segregated schools, forced sterilization, marginalization; refused service at restaurants, stores, discos, etc.; municipalities/towns failing to support them; and the state being unwilling or unable to offer protection.

During this trip, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI will go to Prague and meet Czech President, civil and political authorities, diplomatic corps, members of the academic community, visit Infant Jesus of Prague, hold an ecumenical meeting, etc. He will also visit Brno and Star Boleslav.

Zed and Freirich further said that it was almost sinful and morally unjustifiable for religious people to just ignore Roma face daily apartheid and not raise concern. Pope, being the worlds largest and most influential religious leader, would be very effective in raising the issue of maltreatment of Roma of Czech Republic during this visit.

Leviticus 19: 33-34 says, "When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you. You shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God."

Rajan Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, and Rabbi Freirich were hopeful that Pope would not stay apathetic and silent spectator when fellow Roma brothers/sisters were reportedly facing blatant human rights violations in Czech Republic. They argued that religion taught us to plead for the oppressed, stand with the poor, and seek justice for those whom God loved and too often the world overlooked.

Mostly originating from India, Roma people migrated to Europe starting around 11th century.