The recent expulsions of Roma, also known as Gypsies, from France to their countries of origin, Romania and Bulgaria, reopened a longstanding discussion on the fate of this ethnic minority.
Many Europeans view Roma as swindlers, pickpockets, social welfare system abusers, and people living parasitical lives on the shoulders of society. Human rights advocates and Roma organizations say the negative attitude toward Roma is mainly based in racism.
According to activist Emil Cohen, the Roma are descendants of large numbers of immigrants who came to Europe from India about 1,000 years ago. They were mostly members of lower castes, and the Roma were never able to shake the negative stereotype that developed after they entered Europe. Cohen is a member of a human rights watchdog group, the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, and author of the electronic bulletin Human Rights in Focus.
Source: The Epoch Times