Hindus & Jews want Pope to urgently take up cause of apartheid of European Roma

Hindus and Jews have strongly urged His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to immediately and openly embrace the cause of apartheid of 15-million Roma people of Europe, terming it as immoral and a dark stain on the face of Europe and world.

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 it was almost sinful and morally unjustifiable for religious people to just ignore Roma face daily apartheid and not raise concern. Pope, being the world’s largest and most influential religious leader, would be very effective in focusing public opinion world over on Roma apartheid.

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."

Although references to Roma people reportedly went as far back as ninth century AD, but they were still treated as “aliens” in Europe and not “real and equal” like other Europeans. Pope had promoted various humanitarian causes world over and Roma would be the next worthwhile cause for him undertake, Zed and Freirich argued and added that Pope should also urgently come up with a White Paper on their plight.

Alarming maltreatment 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, unusually high unemployment rates, etc., Rajan Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, and Rabbi Freirich pointed out.

A joint statement released sometime back by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, and the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, said, "Our organisations are deeply concerned by the continuing discriminatory treatment and exclusion of the Roma, and particularly by the recent escalation in hate motivated incidents and racist rhetoric reported in a number of States.”

Hindu and Jewish leaders were hopeful that Pope would not stay apathetic and silent spectator when fellow Roma brothers/sisters were reportedly facing blatant maltreatment right under Pope’s nose in Europe, which was outside even the European Union norms. It was 2009 and many businesses reportedly still refused Roma entry. It was Pope’s moral obligation to make efforts to stop human rights violations suffered by European Roma.

Rajan Zed and Jonathan Freirich further said 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. Pope could form a joint body of major religions and denominations to improve the plight of Roma people.

Roma are said to have migrated from Indian subcontinent to Europe. Pope Benedict heads the Roman Catholic Church, which is the largest of the Christian denominations. Judaism is a monotheistic religion of world’s about 14 million Jews whose most sacred text is Torah. Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksha (liberation) is its ultimate goal.

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