News |

Fear of Discrimination Prevents Roma Day Festivities

April 8th marks international Roma day, which is a day to celebrate Roma history and traditions. However few members of Finland’s Roma minority publicly observe the day because of apprehension towards the majority’s reaction.

romanimies ja -nainen istuvat sohvalla, miehen sylissä chihuahua-koira
Image: Kia-Frega Prepula / YLE

Although members of Finland’s Roma minority would like to celebrate Roma day, many say they keep a low profile to avoid drawing attention to themselves. Only in southern Finland's larger cities has Roma day become a tradition.

“We can’t congregate freely to celebrate international Roma day. If a group of us went to a restaurant, it’s unlikely that we would all be allowed entrance. Roma day festivities would most likely lead to some problems with the majority population,” says Leif Svart, who lives in Kokkola, western Finland.

“We’re afraid to go out on the town because we fear people’s reactions. Naturally, we’ve also developed pre-conceived notions. We’re quick to believe that we won’t be allowed entrance somewhere,” says Aila Lindeman.

"Roma Rarely Seen as Individuals"

Lindeman says she is most upset by ethnic Finns not recognising that Roma people are individuals.

“People belonging to the majority are not clumped together as one big group, which is a courtesy that we would also like to see paid to us,” says Lindeman.

In Finland, international Roma day has been observed since 2005.

The Roma, who trace their roots to medieval India, first arrived in Finland in the 1500s.

Discuss this topic 0 comments

Write a comment

Use a nickname. We don't publish comments using real names.

Stick to the topic. Only comments relevant to the subject will be published.

Reply this question. We want to make sure this comment is not generated automatically.

Your comment will be read by an editor before publication. We want to offer the opportunity for a well-reasoned, quality discussion including a variety of views. For more specific rules of the game, click here.

Latest in: News



Monday's papers: Possible police reserve, Supercell wants more English daycare, weekend tragedies and narrow rescue

The papers on Monday featured news that Finland's Interior Minister says she wants to beef up the country's police forces by utilising up to 3,000 reservists. Mobile gaming giant Supercell says that to attract good workers from abroad, more English-language daycare centres are needed in the Helsinki region. Also, the papers report on two tragedies and a rescue over the weekend.

Our picks