The latest trouble on the Gypsy front

Saturday night the members of the Veszprém handball team decided to have a celebratory night out. One of their colleagues, Gergő Iváncsik, and his wife had just had a baby. They picked a bar/disco sometimes called Skorpió, sometimes Patrióta. They rented a separate room in the cellar for the gathering, but occasionally the handball players left to join the others on the dance floor on the ground floor. Their celebration soon turned into a nightmare.

The day before a young man from Enying (Fejér county) exchanged some harsh words with F.B., a well known thug in town. This man most likely was Iván Sztojka. Sztojka wanted to retaliate against F.B., this time with a show of force. He enlisted a group of fifteen or twenty friends and relatives who went to Veszprém in search of F.B.

They first went to the bar and ordered drinks, but F.B. wasn't there. For whatever reason, they decided not to pay their tab. The barmaid demanded that they settle up. In response, they grabbed her by the hair and banged her head a couple of times on the counter. According to some reports she broke her jaw. At this point some of the handball players came to the girl's assistance. A fight ensued, during which one of Sztojka's cohorts smashed a chair on the head of Zarko Sesum, a Serbian player. He was the luckiest of the three players. The attacking group either forced two of the players outside or they were foolish enough to follow them, but by then knives were drawn. Marian Cozma, a Romanian player, received a mortal stab wound directly through his heart while Ivan Pesic, a Croatian who tried to help Cozma, was stabbed in the back. As a result, he lost one of his kidneys. Cozma is dead, Sesum and Pesic are in the hospital.

Well, this horrific event has two broader consequences. First, in the sports world this handball team was very promising. Cozma, for example, was a member of Romania's national team. The club is famous for recruiting promising youngsters from all over. As the coach tearfully announced, he just lost half his team. In a week or so they were supposed to play against Spain. The other problem is that the alleged perpetrators are Gypsies. This brutal incident happening only a few days after the Miskolc fiasco is most unfortunate. There were demonstrations already not only in Veszprém but in other towns as well. Thousands gathered and, just as in Miskolc, they were not there only to mourn the dead. The Magyar Gárda (Hungarian Guard) also made an appearance. Comments written in response to articles chronicling the events are uniformly fiercely anti-Gypsy. Even in left-liberal papers. I don't want to repeat them here but they are either outright racist (genetic garbage) or express total distrust of the Hungarian police force. One commentator hoped that ordinary citizens would get hold of the two suspects because that will be the only way they get their deserved fate. Lynching, I guess.

By this afternoon the police identified two men, both Gypsies, as the alleged perpetrators. One is Iván Sztojka from Enying whom I mentioned earlier and the other is Sándor Raffael from Sárbogárd. One of the enterprising readers of the news already discovered that Sztojka's name can be found on www.iwiw.hu  (international who's who of Hungarians). I checked it out and although the picture on iwiw is small it bears a suspicious resemblance to the police photo of our Sztojka. The pictures of the two men can be seen here: http://tinyurl.com/cny349 The bloodthirsty Hungarian who was hoping that the irate public would find the two men might be frustrated because it seems that Sándor Raffael was already caught, mind you not by the Hungarian but by the Austrian police. Sztojka is still at large.

The police might be able to round up the guilty ones but that won't resolve the real problem of the growing anti-Gypsy sentiment. Tibor Draskovics, the minister in charge of the police who already had enough trouble in Miskolc, is now confronted with a new crisis. He rushed to Veszprém where he tried to explain that crime is universal and that it is unfair to blame the Gypsy community as a whole, but it is becoming clear that this kind of explanation will not satisfy the Hungarian public. Draskovics late at night on MTV (Szólás szabadsága) admitted that something must be done to foster Gypsy integration. But even if there were tons of money (and there isn't) a serious effort in this direction might take two or three generations. Does Hungarian society have that much time? It is enough to think of the U.S. effort to integrate African Americans. Although in the last forty or fifty years the United States has made great strides in developing an educated black middle class, the country's problems are still not over. There remains a large black underclass in this country. And the Hungarian Gypsies' situation today is far worse than the American situation fifty years ago. Put it this way, Hungary has a lot problems and they are not just financial.

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Op
Guest

“something must be done to foster Gypsy integration”.
As longs we have such clear plan, what can go wrong?
Seriously, does anyone have a solution, or at least an idea of what the core of the problem is?
No, it’s not poverty and unemployment, not discrimination and lack of tolerance.
It’s the gypsy “culture” which hasn’t changed much in the past few hundred years.
The average Hungarian/European lives by different standards gypsies don’t want to accept. They hand down from generation to generation a different set of “values”, enforced by their families abd communities. They are willing to accept our money, they take the freedom without the responsibility. Let’s face it, the gypsy lifestyles is a parasitic lifestyle, rich or poor, doesn’t matter. How are we ever going to change that if all we do is throw more money and limitless tolerance on the problem, and make it a taboo. Can anyone answer that or all you liberals can do is another uninspired ad hominem attack on the messenger? Hmm? Spare the “racist” tirade, I don’t care about what race you’re born into, I’m talking about the growing number of people who live by the gypsy stereotypes, it’s about behavior and attitude, regardless of origin.

sbb
Guest

bravo op! i’m from slovenia and we had a very similar situation last year but in our case after several incidents caused by criminals who were also gypsies and after the police did nothing to prevent further incidents, daspite the crying for help from the local community, the people of a town went to arms and took the matters of their security in their own hands. the whole army of all great tolerant thinkers and liberal media from all europe came down on them like a train promoting them for idiots and intolerant rednecks. even the g..d d…n president of the republic went down to shake hands with the gypsies for being victims of intolerance. after the whole circus settled the same gypsies raped a little girl, robbed and severely beaten an old lady. the police finally arrested them but in quiet not to upset the media or other tollerant people of europe. absurd just like the gypsies

Öcsi
Guest
“The latest trouble on the Gypsy front” is the same old trouble. Words are very important. Perhaps if the Roma were referred to as Roma and not Gypsies things might change. There’s no guarantee but if whole communities are not show any respect whatsoever, why would anyone expect anything to change? They wish to be called Roma then for heavens sake call them Roma! Why is that so difficult? When people are treated as rats they will become aggressive, violent and nasty. When African-Americans were commonly called “niggers,” they behaved like niggers. Go figure! A nigger could never become president of the United States. But an African-American did succeed in becoming president. And just think of the positive example that will be to other oppressed people in the world. Europeans have failed miserably in their dealings with the Roma. So who’s at fault, the Roma or the Europeans? I’ll say it’s the Europeans since they are in charge. Sorry for the rant but I don’t understand why racist words are used to describe people. Gypsy and Cigány are racist words. And just because you used those words all your life doesn’t make it right.
Sandor
Guest
Op: “I’m talking about the growing number of people who live by the gypsy stereotypes, it’s about behavior and attitude, regardless of origin.” Well, Op, inadvertently you stumbled into being right. Your generalization thus extend to all those non-gypsy Hungarians, who also just try to take without ever giving. But would you know the names of Racz Aladar, or Pege, or the poet Bari Karoly, all gypsies, none of whom ever received the accolades they deserved with their accomplishments, also, because they were gypsies? A few years ago a guy, Roby Lakatos, also gypsy, was given the grand price of the Montreux jazz festival. He lives in Canada now, but have you ever heard his name mentioned in Hungary? I doubt it. The problems of the gypsies are compounded not only as a problem of race, but also as a class: they represent the lowest class and “lowest race” in Hungary. (Just imagine! They are hated even more now than the Jews are.) Frankly, I am surprised, they haven’t started a violent revolution earlier. Society is totally washing its hands, they will have no choice but to take matters into their own hands too. And when they do, then they… Read more »
dave
Guest

It is time to ask the question: why did the Hungarian media inflate the very unfortunate Veszprem case? Because it was a great opporunity for them to express their racist views! In Hungary, all the media outlets were happy to point out that the attackers were Roma, as if 87% of the murder cases were not committed by members of the white race! Eva stated very appropriately, Hungary is 50 years behind and has to be treated as such. In this occasion, even the Nepszabadsag (normally considered left-liberal) jumped on the racist bandwagon. Where is now Paul Lendvai, the ombudsman of Nepszabadsag to rein in the savages?

Headless
Guest

Agree with Op and Eva. Pretty much total incompatibility, and PC labels will not change that. All this talk of integration, and yet none of these talkers would dream of moving their families into Roma areas, invest in a property there and encourage their children to play with the Romany little ones. But then again…talk is cheap!

Öcsi
Guest

“It is naive to think that if they are called Roma the hatred of them that is widespread will disappear.”
Perhaps it’s naive but it’s never been tried.
In the USA there is the NAACP as well as the National Council of Negro Women.
Have you called anyone Negro recently? Have you called anyone colored recently?
They are just words and yet no respectable person uses them these days. And the reason those words aren’t used is because they are “loaded.” Gypsy and cigánÿ are equally loaded.
I don’t want to edit your writing, Eva, but I would be happy if used Roma instead of Gypsy.

Op
Guest
Sandor, I used to be a bass player and studied with Mr. Pege. It was an honor and a privilege. I’m also great admirer of other musicians of gypsy origin, including George Cyiffra and others. One of my neighbors was a painter, we became good friends, I drove him to many of his exhibitions (he didn’t have a car). It never once occoured to me to look at these people differently because of their race. You don’t have to be an artist or musician to earn respect, common decency can go a long way. I’ve seen very poor families who managed to keep their dignity, and never even think about asking something for nothing. They taught their kids respect and sent them to school. They kept their places clean and neat, and worked hard to get by. Gypsies who do that have my respect. There’s another class of gypsies, the ones with lots of money, thick gold chains and flashy cars. Some of them still manage to collect welfare, plus the welfare money of other, poor gypsies. Instead of helping their communities they take what’s left. What about them? How much respect these mafiosos deserve? It’s a complex issue, the… Read more »
Mark
Guest
Dave: “It is time to ask the question: why did the Hungarian media inflate the very unfortunate Veszprem case? Because it was a great opporunity for them to express their racist views! ” Absolutely, and it is utterly shocking that no mainstream media outlet was prepared to examine this case properly. Indeed, it seems from the number of versions of the events that led to this tragedy that few were interested in establishing the facts of the course of events. I’ve examined this (among other issues)as an historian, and it seems to me that the press and others ought to think about the rather shameful recent history of Hungarian-Roma relations. One of things I’ve been encountering as a researcher in local archives are the tactics of Arrow Cross organization in the late 1930s. One tactic was to march through villages with Roma populations in order to stir up tension and then to collect signatures in support of anti-Roma measures, in order to recruit members. This tactic seems to have been quite a widespread one as far as I can tell (this should sound familiar to anyone who has seen the news recently, and has been following the antics of Jobbik).… Read more »
Öcsi
Guest

“Agree with Op and Eva. Pretty much total incompatibility, and PC labels will not change that. All this talk of integration, and yet none of these talkers would dream of moving their families into Roma areas, invest in a property there and encourage their children to play with the Romany little ones. But then again…talk is cheap!”
And yours is priceless, Headless!
You say that PC labels will not change that. Do you know what PC means? It means politically correct. If you don’t want to be politically correct then you are PI, politically incorrect.
Hungarian-Roma relations have been PI for centuries. And you seem to be insisting that we remain politically incorrect.
I hope you enjoy the future you wish for. It won’t be pretty!

Odin's lost eye
Guest
I will not argue about culture or subculture of those involved. I do not think that arguing about the name given to the racial group of the particular people are accused of these offences has any value at all. As I had read the situation some little nurk, who may well be found to be a psychopath, decided to go with some of his mates to ‘knock seven different types of brick dust’ out of another person with whom he had had a quarrel. The brutal nature of the resulting assaults and murder which resulted has nothing to do with their ethnic origins. The papers have made much of their ethnic origin. However thugs like this occur in all societies. The live and thrive on physical violence and intimidation. They tend to be the basic building blocks of the gang subculture which is all too prevalent in many western societies. The problem is dealing with them. I’m afraid the only deterrent is sure and certain arrest and extremely severe sentences. The problem is that psychopaths don’t care. It’s what makes them psychopaths. I’m afraid once a psychopath always a psychopath, it seems to be a physical trait, and has something… Read more »
Headless
Guest

Ocsi,
I wish for nothing less than peace, happiness and goodwill for all….but then I suddenly wake up and realize it was all just a delirious dream!
Though I agree with your sentiment that words/labels have power, it is nothing but wishful thinking to imagine that re-labeling something can change the actual contents.
So…let me get this right: “they” should make a greater effort to be more like “us”, with our work ethic and social mores, and then we could all merrily get along? Or should “we” make a greater effort to be more like “them”? Or could we somehow meet halfway?
In the US, the Native Americans looked at a tree and saw, shelter, bow and arrows, fire wood, etc. The white settlers looked at the same tree and saw $5. And now all the NA live on reservations on the barren Eastern side of the mountains.
Some cultural stuff runs too deep and adverse for rapid change. And the very slowness of pace, can equally lead to attitudes softening or hardening (on both sides).
On a related issue, I’d like to know what anyone has actually done, in a practical sense, to help resolve this issue. Like I said before….talk is cheap.

never mind
Guest

“In the USA the word “Negro” is completely out, but in Hungary Gypsies often call themselves Gypsies.”
Can anyone bring me up to speed with the history of minorities in Hungary?
Does anyone know the origins of the word “neger” in the Hungarian dictionary?
I’d like to track events in real-time.

isti
Guest

“And the Hungarian Gypsies’ situation today is far worse than the American situation fifty years ago.”
You people honestly believe this? Back it up. Please.

NOT
Guest

Arkan Tiger
100 000 euro for Sztojka!!!

Andras
Guest

For those who are reading Hungarian a very intersting link. It practically says that about 4/5th of the respondent have some prejudice against roma, and that prejudice is cross-cutting party differences.
http://www.publicus.hu/blog/ciganyellenesseg

chris
Guest

for all of you gypsy lovers just move for a year next to a gypsy and u’ll see what it means.then we’ll talk.
it’s easy to judge from far …..
and what about the hungarians who are afraid to leave their house because of gypsies…
and if you judge from us or any other other country and u never have to do with them , raise your kids and be happy u are not getting a phone call that some gypsy cut your kids down just because he didnt had nothing better to do.

Jimmy the Tulip
Guest

The Hungarian reality is, that your life will be a nightmare, if you live in a gypsy neighbourhood. Facing this fact of life, it is very hard to expect hungarians to have a different opinion (than the current negative one) about their gypsy compatriots. You people live in your white towers of dreams, but we live in this gypsy peppered hungarian reality.

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