International Roma Day celebrations underway in Prague|
Sunday, April 8th, is International Roma Day but events are being held
around Prague throughout the week to commemorate the occasion.
International Roma Day is a young holiday, which was only established in
1990, but it is one of the few festivals shared by the Roma population the
Traditional music is perhaps the best known feature of Roma culture but
organisers of this year's celebrations say they don't want Roma culture
being stereotyped as just that. Still, concerts featuring traditional
gypsy music will be an important part of the celebrations, together with
panel discussions and film projections. There will also be opportunities
to taste traditional Roma cuisine and a chance to watch a bowling and a
football tournament. The events are organised by the Prague-based Romani
students' organisation Athinganoi. Zdenek Horvath of Athinganoi says why
he thinks the majority population should be aware of International Roma
"I believe any international day has a meaning for society. And
considering there are all kinds of international days why not pay
attention to a day dedicated to a nation so rich culturally and otherwise
as the Roma."
At the moment, the Czech Roma community is concerned by recent offensive
statements made by Deputy Prime Minister Jiri Cunek regarding the Roma.
Zdenek Horvath says while his organisation would much rather concentrate
on the celebrations of International Roma Day they cannot refrain from
commenting on Mr Cunek's statements.
"Our organisation is outraged by Mr Cunek's statements about his
fellow citizens whose opinion he should take into consideration as
minister and deputy prime minister. It is apparent that Mr Cunek tried to
strike a populist note and succeeded. That is a pity because I don't
believe that the Czech nation is inherently xenophobic as is often said.
It looks like Mr Cunek is trying to add fuel to a fire which had gone out