Symposium in Montreal: Resurgence of anti-“Gypsy” extremism


DECEMBER 7, 2012

Goethe-Institut Montreal, 1626, Boulevard Saint Laurent, Suite 100, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H2X 2T1

History Speaks: Do We Listen? Porrajmos, and the Resurgence of Anti-“Gypsy” Extremism

To persecute groups like the Roma is to persecute our own secret selves. To criminalize an entire ethnic group is to vandalize our own secret identities…In our hearts we know that we are all misunderstood, how easy then to turn against the weakest in our midst and blame them for all our ills. The Roma are in danger of becoming the scapegoats for our fears. The real crime is ours, the crime of turning their life into a waking nightmare.
Salman Rushdie



ETHEL BROOKS, Rutgers University
RONALD LEE, Board Member, Roma Community Centre, Toronto
GINA CSANYI-ROBAH, Executive Director, Roma Community Centre, Toronto
LYNN HUTCHINSON LEE, “chirikli” collective
HEDINA TAHIROVIĆ SIJERČIĆ, National Coordinator for Roma, BiH Ministry of Human Rights and Refugees, EU
SARAH BARBIEUX, “Troupe Caravane (Québec)”
DEBBIE FOLARON, Concordia University, Moderator
BILL KERRIGAN, Kerrigan Productions Inc.
DAVID WARD, Lab six and a half, Concordia University
AARON YEGER, Director of A People Uncounted


The fate of Romani communities in many ways paralleled the fate of Jews during the Second World War. With widespread support from the European population-at-large, which harboured social prejudice towards the Roma, they were singled out by the Nazis as “racially inferior,” and sent to forced-labour and death camps. Historians estimate that about 25 percent of European Roma were murdered during the Porrajmos. The rhetoric used by those holding extremist views against Jews, Roma, and others was very effectively crafted to make these groups appear to be threatening and dangerous.
The symposium aims:
• to encourage historical reflection and understanding of how societies-at-large move from seemingly innocuous commentaries and impressions of “Others” to embracing outright discriminatory acts, prejudice, persecution, and genocide
• to expose the mechanisms that support extremist rhetoric and systematic misrepresentation and stereotyping, which quickly and dangerously lead to widespread violence and hate crimes, whether in the past or present
• to demonstrate the influence of the arts and education in their capacity to bear testimony to the past, enlighten the present, and provide hope for the future
• to sensitize and educate the community with regard to the Romani Holocaust (Porrajmos) while encouraging discussion on intolerance, racism, and persecution

Please see attached press releases (English and French) for more information and symposium schedule.

***please note our new address***

Gina Csanyi-Robah
Executive Director
Roma Community Centre

Roma Community Centre
1344 Bloor St. W.
Toronto, ON

M6H 1P2

Office: (416) 546-2524

Cell: (416) 561-0770



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