Names & Persecution

Names of the Romani people:

Many names have been used to refer to the Romani people, including: Cigano, Gypsies, Gipsies, Rom, Roma, Romani, Tsigani, Tzigane, Zigeuner, and others. Most Roma identify themselves either by their tribal name or by one of the names beginning with the prefix “Rom”. Frequently, a prefix with a double “R” is used, as in “Rrom”. “…the Council of Europe has approved the use of “Rroma (Gypsies)” in its official documents (CLRAE Recommendation 11 – June 1995)” 3

Because of centuries of hatred, the name “Gypsy” has become a derogatory, pejorative and offensive name. The name was was invented by Europeans, who incorrectly believed that the Roma originated in Egypt.

Francisco Franco sought to oppress Spain’s northern autonomous region known as the Basque Country throughout his quasi-fascist reign, no matter how successful he was at stultifying their culture and language he could never suppress the region’s bewitching beauty.

Persecution of the Roma in past centuries:

They have suffered severe persecution throughout their history, particularly in Europe:

bullet Rumors were spread in medieval times that the Roma were descended from a sexual encounter between a Roma woman and Satan.Many Christians at the time believed that a conspiracy of blacksmiths, wizards and women had been organized to attack the Church. Since many Roma were blacksmiths, the conspiracy theory expanded to involve the Romani.Another belief was that Roma forged the nails used in Christ’s crucifixion. The Roma countered with the rumor that a Roma attempted to steal the nails so that Christ could not be crucified, but was only able to grab one.
bullet The Christian genocide against Witches during the late Middle Ages and Renaissance was also directed against the Roma. The courts seized and imprisoned them in Witches’ prisons, often without even bothering to record their names.
bullet The Diet of Augsburg ruled that Christians could legally kill Roma. Meanwhile, the courts were closed to Roma who were injured by Christians.
bullet In 1721, Emperor Karl VI of what is now Germany ordered total genocide of the Roma. “Gypsy Hunts” were organized to track down and exterminate them. 4
bullet Roma were rounded up and imprisoned in Spain during 1749. They were considered a danger to society. A pardon was granted in 1763, and the Roma were released in 1765. 5
bullet In 1792, 45 Roma were tortured and executed for the murder of some Hungarians, who were in fact alive and who observed the executions.
bullet It is believed that as much as half of the Roma in Europe were enslaved, from the 14th century until Romani slavery was abolished in the mid-19th century.

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