Romani people in Romania
|621,000 (2011 census)|
|Romani and other languages (Romanian, Hungarian|
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Romani people (Roma; Romi, traditionally Țigani, "Gypsies") constitute one of Romania's largest minorities. According to the 2011 census, their number was 621,000 people or 3.3% of the total population, being the second-largest ethnic minority in Romania after Hungarians. There are different estimates about the size of the total population of people with Romani ancestry in Romania, varying from 4.6 percent to over 10 percent of the population, because many people of Romani descent do not declare themselves Roma.
The linguistic evidence has indisputably shown that roots of Romani language lie in India: the language has grammatical characteristics of Indian languages and shares with them a big part of the basic lexicon, for example, body parts or daily routines. More exactly, Romani shares the basic lexicon with Hindi and Punjabi. It shares many phonetic features with Marwari, while its grammar is closest to Bengali.
Genetic findings in 2012 suggest the Romani originated in northwestern India and migrated as a group. According to a genetic study in 2012, the ancestors of present scheduled tribes and scheduled caste populations of northern India, traditionally referred to collectively as the Ḍoma, are the likely ancestral populations of modern European Roma.
In February 2016, during the International Roma Conference, the Indian Minister of External Affairs stated that the people of the Roma community were children of India. The conference ended with a recommendation to the Government of India to recognize the Roma community spread across 30 countries as a part of the Indian diaspora.
In Romani, the native language of the Romani, the word for people is pronounced [ˈroma] or [ˈʀoma] depending on dialect ([ˈrom] or [ˈʀom] in the singular). Starting from the 1990s, the word has also been officially used in the Romanian language, although it has been used by Romani activists in Romania as far back as 1933.
There are two spellings of the word in Romanian: rom (plural romi), and rrom (plural rromi). The first spelling is preferred by the majority of Romani NGOs and it is the only spelling accepted in Romanian Academy's Dicționarul explicativ al limbii române. The two forms reflect the fact that for some speakers of Romani there are two rhotic (ar-like) phonemes: /r/ and /ʀ/. In the government-sponsored (Courthiade) writing system /ʀ/ is spelt rr. The final i in rromi is the Romanian (not Romani) plural.
The traditional and colloquial Romanian name for Romani, is "țigani" (cognate with Serbian cigani, Hungarian cigány, Greek ατσίγγανοι (atsinganoi), French tsiganes, Portuguese ciganos, Dutch zigeuner, German Zigeuner, Turkish Çigan, Persian زرگری (zargari), Arabic غجري (ghajri), Italian zingari, Russian цыганский (tsiganskiy) and Kazakh Сыған/ســىــعــان(syǵan) ) Depending on context, the term may be considered to be pejorative in Romania.
In 2009–2010, a media campaign followed by a parliamentary initiative asked the Romanian Parliament to accept a proposal to revert the official name of country's Roma (adopted in 2000) to Țigan (Gypsy), the traditional and colloquial Romanian name for Romani, in order to avoid the possible confusion among the international community between the words Roma — which refers to the Romani ethnic minority — and Romania. The Romanian government supported the move on the grounds that many countries in the European Union use a variation of the word Țigan to refer to their Gypsy populations. The Romanian upper house, Senate, rejected the proposal.
History and integration
In combination with the Mongol invasion of Europe the first Romani had reached the territory of present-day Romania around the year 1241. At the beginning of the 14th century, when the Mongols withdrew from Eastern Europe, the Romani who were left were taken as prisoners and slaves. According to documents signed by Prince Dan I the first captured Romani in Wallachia dates back to year 1385.
In fact, the Romani people, and the Romani language, have their origin in northern India. The presence of the Roms within the territory of present-day Romania dates back to the 14th century. The population of Roms fluctuated depending on diverse historical and political events.
Until their liberation on February 20, 1856, most Roms lived in slavery. They could not leave the property of their owners (the boyars and the orthodox monasteries). Around the year 1850, about 102,000 Romani lived in the Danubian Principalities, comprising 2.7% of the population (90,000 or 4.1% in Wallachia and 12,000 or 0.8% in Moldavia).[verification needed]
Between 1856 and 1918
After their liberation in 1856, a significant number of Roms left Wallachia and Moldavia.
In 1886 the number of Roms was estimated at around 200,000, or 3.2% of Romania's population. The 1899 census counted around 210,806 "others", of whom roughly half (or 2% of the country's population) were Romani.
In Bessarabia, annexed by the Russian Empire in 1812, the Roms were liberated in 1861. Many of them migrated to other regions of the Empire, while important communities remained in Soroca, Otaci and the surroundings of Cetatea Albă, Chișinău, and Bălți.
Between 1918 and 1945
The first census in interwar Romania took place in 1930; 242,656 persons (1.6%) were registered as Gypsies (țigani).
The territory lost in 1940 caused a drop in the number of Romani, leaving a high number especially in Southern Dobruja and Northern Transylvania.
During the Second World War, the Fascist regime of Ion Antonescu deported 25,000 Romani to Transnistria; of these, 11,000 died. In all, from the territory of present-day Romania (including Northern Transylvania), 36,000 Romani perished during that time.
During the communist regime and after 1989
The communist authorities have tried to integrate the Roma community, for example by building flats for them. Apart from the 1977 national campaign that confiscated all the gold (particularly jewelry) belonging to the Roma, there are few documents about the particular situation of this ethnic group during Ceaușescu's dictatorship.
Sometimes the authorities tried to cover up crimes related to racial hatred, so as not to raise the social tension. An example of this is the crime committed by a truck driver named Eugen Grigore, from Iași who, in 1974, to avenge the death of his wife and his three children caused by a group of Roma, drove his truck into a Roma camp, killing 24 people. This fact was made public only in the 2000s.
After the fall of communism in Romania, there were many inter-ethnic conflicts targeting the Roma community, the most famous being the Hădăreni riots. Other important clashes against Roma happened, from 1989 to 2011, in Turulung, Vârghiș, Bolintin-Deal, Ogrezeni, Reghin, Cărpiniş, Găiseni, Plăieşii de Sus, Vălenii Lăpuşului, Racşa, Valea Largă, Apata, Sânmartin[disambiguation needed], Sâncrăieni and Racoş. During the June 1990 Mineriad, a group of protesters organized a pogrom in the Roma neighborhoods of Bucharest. According to the press, the raids resulted in the destruction of apartments and houses, beatings of men and assaults of women of Roma ethnicity. There have also often been many politicians who have made offensive statements against the Roma people, such as the president of that time Traian Băsescu, who, in 2007, called a Roma woman "stinky Gypsy". In November 2011, the mayor of the city of Baia Mare, Cătălin Cherecheș, decided to build a wall in a neighborhood inhabited by a Roma community. The national anti-discrimination council in 2020 fined him for not demolishing the wall.
A 2000 EU report about Romani said that in Romania… the continued high levels of discrimination are a serious concern.. and progress has been limited to programmes aimed at improving access to education.
Various international institutions, such as the World Bank, the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB), and the Open Society Institute (OSI) launched the 2005-2015 Decade for Roma Inclusion. To this, followed the EU Decade of Roma Inclusion  to combat this and other problems. The integration of the Roma is made difficult also due to a great economic and social disparity; according to the 2002 census, Roma are the ethnic group with the highest percentage of illiteracy (25,6%), with only the Turkish minority having a similarly high percentage (23,7%). Within the Romanian education system there is discrimination and segregation, which leads to higher drop-out rates and lower qualifications for the Romani students. The life expectancy of the Romani minority is also 10 years lower than the Romanian average.
The accession of Romania to the European Union in 2007 led many members of the Romani minority, the most socially disadvantaged ethnic group in Romania, to migrate en masse to various Western European countries (mostly to Spain, Italy, Austria, Germany, France, Belgium, United Kingdom, Sweden) hoping to find a better life. The exact number of emigrants is unknown. In 2007 Florin Cioabă, an important leader of the Romani community (also known as the "King of all Gypsies") declared in an interview that he worried that Romania may lose its Romani minority. However, the next population census in 2011 showed a substantial rise in those recording Romani ethnicity.
The Pro Democrația association in Romania revealed that 94% of the questioned persons believe that the Romanian citizenship should be revoked to the ethnic Roms who commit crimes abroad. Another survey revealed that 68% of Romanians think that Roma people commit most crimes, 46% think that they are thieves, while 43% lazy and dirty, and 36% believe that the Roma community might become a threat to Romania.
In another survey made in 2013 by IRES, 57% respondents stated that they generally don't trust people of Roma ancestry and only 17% said to have a Roma friend. Still, 57% said that this ethnic group is not discriminated in Romania, 59% claimed that the Roma should not receive help from the state, and that Roma people are poor because they don't like to work (72%) and that most of them are thugs (61%).
|County||Romani population (2011 census)||%|
According to the 2002 census, 81.9% of Roma are Orthodox Christians, 6.4% Pentecostals, 3.8% Roman Catholics, 3% Reformed, 1.1% Greek Catholics, 0.9% Baptists, 0.8% Seventh-Day Adventists, while the rest belong to other religions such as (Islam and Lutheranism).
The musical genre manele, a part of Romanian pop culture, is often sung by Romani singers in Romania and has been influenced in part by Romani music, but mostly by Oriental music brought in Romania from Turkey during the 19th century. Romanian public opinion about the subject varies from support to outright condemnation.
Self-proclaimed "Romani royalty"
The Romani community has:
- An "Emperor of Roma from Everywhere", as Iulian Rădulescu proclaimed himself. In 1997, Iulian Rădulescu announced the creation of Cem Romengo – the first Rom state in Târgu Jiu, in southwest Romania. According to Rădulescu, "this state has a symbolic value and does not affect the sovereignty and unity of Romania. It does not have armed forces and does not have borders". According to the 2002 population census, in Târgu Jiu there are 96.79% Romanians (93,546 people), 3.01% (Romani) (2,916 people) and 0.20% others.
- A "King of Roma". In 1992, Ioan Cioabă proclaimed himself King of Roma at Horezu, "in front of more than 10,000 Rroms" (according to his son's declaration). His son, Florin Cioabă, succeeded him as king.
- An "International King of Roma". On August 31, 2003, according to a decree issued by Emperor Iulian, Ilie Stănescu was proclaimed king. The ceremony took place in Curtea de Argeş Cathedral, the Orthodox Church where Romania's Hohenzollern monarchs were crowned and are buried. Ilie Stănescu died in December, 2007.
Romanian president Traian Băsescu (left) at a meeting with the representatives of the Romani minority organizations (right)
Nazi era image. Posed photo of some NSDAP leaders in 1941, with Romani flower sellers.
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- Sandu Ciorba, singer
- Grigoraş Dinicu, violinist
- Damian Draghici, nai player
- Ştefan Bănică, Sr., singer
- Ştefan Bănică, Jr., singer
- Fănică Luca, player of the nai
- Bănel Nicoliţă, footballer
- Alexandru Neagu, footballer
- Johnny Răducanu, jazz musician
- Adrian Copilul Minune, manele singer
- Ion Voicu, classical violinist and conductor
- Mădălin Voicu, conductor
- Nicolae Guţă, manele singer
- Marcel Pavel, singer
- Fărâmiţă Lambru, singer
- Anca Parghel, jazz singer
- Connect-R, singer
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