Hindu dharma is implicitly at odds with monotheistic intolerance. What is happening in India is a new historical awakening... Indian intellectuals, who want to be secure in their liberal beliefs, may not understand what is going on. But every other Indian knows precisely what is happening: deep down he knows that a larger response is emerging even if at times this response appears in his eyes to be threatening.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Take up cause of European Roma facing apartheid

Emphasizing the maltreatment of Roma people of Europe, Hindus have strongly urged His Holiness Pope Benedictus to immediately and openly embrace their cause.

Rajan Zed, acclaimed Hindu and Indo-American leader, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that Roma were reportedly facing blatant injustice and discrimination right under Pope's nose in Europe. Being the biggest religious leader in the world, it was Pope's moral obligation to make efforts to stop human rights violations suffered by around ten million European Roma.

Zed, who is president of Universal Society of Hinduism, said that all religions had told us to plead for the oppressed, stand with the poor, and seek justice for those whom God loved and too often the world overlooked. Pope could form a joint body of major religions and denominations to improve the plight of Roma people, Zed said and offered to provide Hindu support if asked.

Pope enjoyed a strong influence throughout Europe, which he could use to ameliorate the plight of long abused Roma people. He should also come up with a White Paper on their plight, addressing the problems of Roma people and listing the solutions, action program and implementation schedule, Rajan Zed argued.

Religions should not stay out as silent spectators to apartheid like conditions faced by Roma, Zed said and invited world religions, denominations, and religious leaders to join the cause of this distinct ethnic and cultural group of Roma, because religion taught us to help the helpless.

Alarming condition of Roma is a social blight for Europe and the rest of the world as they reportedly regularly face social exclusion, racism, substandard education, hostility, joblessness, rampant illness, inadequate housing, lower life expectancy, unrest, living on desperate margins, language barriers, stereotypes, mistrust, rights violations, discrimination, marginalization, appalling living conditions, prejudice, human rights abuse, racist slogans on Internet, unusually high unemployment rates, etc., Rajan Zed points out.

The maltreatment of Roma is outside even the European Union norms. Roma issue should be one of the highest priorities of human rights agenda of Europe and Pope, Zed stressed.

Roma are said to have migrated from Indian subcontinent to Europe about a thousand years ago. Pope Benedict heads the Roman Catholic Church, which is the largest of the Christian denominations. Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksha (liberation) is its ultimate goal.

Rajan Zed, Via e-mail

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