Jews, Hindus urge Pope to take up cause of Roma during Czech visit

Hindus and Jews have asked Pope Benedict XVI to take up the cause of the Roma of the Czech Republic during his upcoming apostolic journey on September 26-28. They said that Roma were living in apartheid like conditions. In a joint statement issued in Nevada Tuesday, Rajan Zed, an acclaimed Hindu statesman and Rabbi Jonathan B. Freirich a prominent American Jewish leader in Nevada and California, said that Roma people in the Czech Republic reportedly faced violent attacks, stereotyping, racism, prejudice, growing gaps between Roma and other Czechs, beatings, poor quality housing, systemic unemployment, persecution, social exclusion, segregated schooling, were refused service at restaurants, stores, discos, faced the state's refusal to offer them protection from oppression, and were even undergoing forced sterilization. Zed and Freirich further said that it was almost sinful and morally unjustifiable for religious people to ignore the Roma people's maltreatment. The Pope, they said, being the world's largest and most influential religious leader, would be very effective in raising the issue of maltreatment of the Czech Roma during his visit. Mostly originating from India, the Roma migrated to Europe, starting around the 11th century.