Roma Women Protest Against Hate Speech and Lack of Political Response

An open letter sent by Roma women to Bulgaria's political elite decries the racist hate speech of MPs, but says that the lack of an official response and action against these words is more alarming than the words themselves.

The lack of response from the political elite in relation to highly offensive anti-Roma rhetoric is even more alarming than the displays of hate speech that one can hear from members of the Bulgarian National Assembly, says an open letter sent by Roma women to Bulgaria's president, prime minister, chairman of the National Assembly, chairmen of the parliamentary groups of the ruling parties and the European institutions.

"Who, if not you, will stop the rampant racism in our society? Neither we, nor you, should tolerate the inculcation of notions such as 'Roma crimes' or 'Gypsies are subhuman and vermin' as a norm of public and political discourse in Bulgaria," reads the letter.

The protest was triggered by statements of MPs from different political parties against the Roma community in recent months. "Do you find qualifications regarding the Roma community such as 'insolent, overweening, enraged anthropoids,' 'half animals,' and 'the lost link between Neanderthals and the Homo Sapiens' normal?" the letter asks.

During their symbolic protest march from the building of the presidential administration to the National Assembly, the women were supported by non-Roma people.