9 November, 2016

Antisemitism in Romania?

Category: Antisemitism
Community Manager
7 pm

synagogue-cluj-napoca-romania-4-nhsm-focus-synagogue-blurredWritten by Radu Răileanu, ActiveWatch-Media Monitoring Agency Romania, Member of the National Campaign Committee, No Hate Speech Movement Romania

Every year, on the 9th of November, the International Day against fascism and antisemitism is observed. This year, the Council of Europe has advocated that the 9th of November be an Action Day against hate speech with anti-Semitic accents. Some background information: exactly 78 years ago, in Germany, on the same date in 1938, what would later be known in history as Crystal Night (Kristalnacht), one of the biggest pogroms against Jews, started. More than 400 people were beaten to death and approximately 8 000 shops were destroyed by citizens supported by certain state entities: the famous SS and SA troops (Sturmabteilung).

In case you are among those who are now wondering why the pogroms should be our concern at all, as Romanians, and why we should speak of Kristalnacht in Romania of 2016, why we should not leave it only to the Germans to clean up their history and to talk about anti-Semitism, the answer is simple: Romania was involved during the Second World War in the killing of more than 200 000 Jews [1] and too little Romanians know about this fact.

An undeniable fact: ever since the “glorious” days when the Great Romania Party was making use of the ancestral animosity of Romanians towards Jews to attract the votes of the naïve ones, hate speech targeting the Jewish community is seldom to be encountered in the mainstream news. At the same time, in Europe, the past years have stood as witnesses of a growing frequency of anti-Semitic hate speech. We may say that us, Romanians, we have evolved, that we are well off. However, that would only mean deceiving ourselves!

Indeed, at a discursive level, anti-Semitism is not so visible in Romania anymore, yet state authorities are not doing enough to counter this kind of hate speech when it does occur. Our national legislation classifies as penal offences the denial of the Holocaust, the promotion of Nazi and fascist symbols and of the cult of personalities guilty of crimes against the humanity. However, in 2014, of the 64 penal cases opened on this topic, only 20 have been settled and none has been arraigned.[2] That means that justice stopped with prosecutors. In 2015, a county political party leader posted on Facebook a photo of Adolf Hitler, to which he added a caption that read “I’m starting to miss one of the most powerful leaders of humankind!”, and a rapper from Bucharest posted on the same social media network a photo taken in a studio where there was a swastika on the ceiling. We don’t know yet whether the authorities have reacted to this or not. We are waiting for the second annual Report on hate speech in Romania, which will be launched at the beginning of next year. Also, while in many countries in the EU the Police and prosecutors benefit from mandatory courses designed to help them understand and recognize hate crimes (including some forms of hate speech), here such endeavours are feeble and occasional.

But, besides the dysfunctions of the state, it is in the power of every citizen to contribute to the cleaning of the public space of toxic discourse. The most ready at hand method is to make use of reporting buttons made available by most serious websites (Facebook, YouTube etc.). It is the solution that we recommend to rookie online super-heroes. For the most experienced ones, there is also the option of appealing to counter-discourse (counter narratives), which means combating, in a civilized manner and with arguments, those who post rubbish content. In the end, it is in our power as well, as simple citizens, to change the world!

[1] http://www.inshr-ew.ro/ro/holocaustul-din-romania/victime.html

[2] http://www.activewatch.ro/Assets/Upload/files/Raport%20anual%20cu%20privire%20la%20discursul%20instigator%20la%20ura%202014%20-%202015(1).pdf


 (translated by Irina Drexler, National campaign coordinator, No Hate Speech Movement Romania)

 The original article (in Romanian) is available at http://nohatespeech.ro/1437-2/


  1. Pingback: Radu Răileanu: Antisemitism in Romania? – Foreigners & Friends Bulgaria

  2. Pingback: Antisemitism în România? – no hate speech

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