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On Roma Liberation Day, President Iohannis urges removal of still existing prejudice, discrimination against Roma

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Klaus Iohannis Crăciun

In a message sent on February 20, on Roma Liberation Day, President Klaus Iohannis stressed the importance of eliminating prejudice and discrimination, noting that they are still "all too common" in the access of Roma communities to education.

The President reminds that the liberation of the Roma 165 years ago had a major role in changing the profile and values of the Romanian society of the mid-nineteenth century, preparing the country for the encounter with European modernity.

"This was one of those moments of a very special relevance for the Romanian society's course towards renewal and westernization in the middle of the 19th century. Like the Union of the Principalities, which happened shortly afterwards, or the reforms that followed, the liberation of the Roma had a major role in changing the profile and values of the society of that time, preparing our country for the encounter with European modernity," Iohannis wrote on the occasion of the Roma Liberation Day.

He added that the hundreds of years of deprivation of liberty have left "deep and difficult to heal scars" on the members of the Roma community.

"The law that set them free did not solve the enormous economic and social gap the Roma were victims of, and in the decades that followed, their existence was tragically marked by a host of expressions of discrimination, hatred and racism," the head of the state notes.

According to him, the liberation that took place in 1856 was a great challenge for the Romanian society as a whole.

"Overcoming the consequences of this past is a great challenge. In a social Europe, a resilient Romania must increasingly capitalize through strategies and projects on the identity, potential, capabilities and energy of its Roma citizens. It is extremely important that we eliminate prejudice and discrimination, which are still all too common in the access to education of Roma communities. Therefore, I want the 'Educated Romania' program to be the spearhead of our effort for equality, inclusion and tolerance," Klaus Iohannis wrote.

The President urged the deterrence and sanctioning of racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic demonstrations, but also of hate speech.

"The last year, dominated by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, has shown how difficult it is for society to remain immune to hate speech, generalizations and mass blame in times of crisis. Entire communities, such as the Roma ones, become the targets of such attacks. These behaviors and attitudes are unacceptable in a democratic society! The prompt deterrence and speedy sanctioning of hate speech, racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic demonstrations are in the power of all citizens, but fall in the special responsibility of those who, by the nature of their activity, give real content to the citizens' rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution," the head of the state remarked.

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