The self-consciously radical French group the Indigènes de la République (“Natives of the Republic”) have copied to their website an article by Jerzy Buzek on the World War II-era genocide of the Roma. It isn’t every day that the President of the European Parliament is taken on by a group like the Indigènes, who are something like France’s equivalent of the 1970s Black Power movement in America, albeit with more Muslims (and not fake Muslims at that, though they are hugely inspired by Malcolm X and Mohammed Ali).
The interest of both Buzek and the Indigènes in the memory of the Roma genocide comes no doubt from anti-Roma sentiment across Europe and in particular Nicolas Sarkozy’s deportation of Roma last year. In Indigènes ideology, race and racism play a determinant role in national and international politics whether in attitudes towards immigration, varieties of neocolonialism (American, French, Israeli) or concern about “national identity”..). Buzek’s article is of interest to the Indigènes insofar as it also includes non-Jews in the memory of the Nazi genocide (“one third of the people held in Auschwitz were Roma”) and in keeping alive the memory and proof of racism in France and Europe.
Incidentally, after the “national identity debate” of last year that led to the criminalization of burqas in France (all 2,000 of them), Sarkozy has deemed it necessary to have a national “Islam and secularism debate” too (also see Reuters), to deal with the financing of Mosques, the contents of Friday sermons and the education of imams. The best one could hope for would be more mosques so Muslims don’t have to pray in the streets (and be compared to Nazi occupiers) and more Western-educated imams so they don’t need to come from more conservative countries. The worst one can expect is another round of Front national-emulating and a few more legitimate points to the Indigènes.