Institutionalized racism? Preventative measure? As we have seen in many places over the course of the last century – Berlin, Palestine, Texas, etc. – building a wall to keep people in, or out, is never a good idea. While it may seemingly solve some short-term issues, it most always leads to greater conflict, and eventually the walls are all torn down.
Enter Romania. The Roma, or gypsies, with population estimates anywhere from 500,000 to two million, are scapegoated in Romania like illegal Mexican immigrants are scapegoated in the U.S. or North African immigrants are scapegoated in many places in southern Europe. During times of economic downturn, there always needs to be some group to scapegoat, and the Roma have had a long history of being scapegoated and targeted, including by the Nazi regime in WWII. Last year, France repatriated large groups of Roma despite them being EU citizens, sparking cries of xenophobia and racism within the European Union.
Romania recently built a concrete wall between a Roma neighborhood and a main thoroughfare, essentially creating a ghetto. While Reuters reports that the local government stated that the wall was built to prevent traffic accidents, many, including several advocacy groups within the country, believe that the underlying goal is to separate the Roma from the rest of the community.
Is it time for the European Union to step in? Apparently, they will need to climb a wall first to get to the Roma to help.