Sabina Higgins has said anti-Semitism has been reawakened due to right-wing politics and warned that “poisonous ideologies” must not be tolerated.
“The recent rise in right-wing neo-fascism parties in Europe has brought about a reawakening of that anti-Roma sentiment along with anti-Semitism, Islamaphobia, and anti-emigrant narratives,” said the wife of President Michael D Higgins.
“These poisonous ideologies must not be allowed to gain foothold in contemporary moment. It’s a cause of great grief that right through history so much unnecessary suffering was inflicted on people through man’s inhumanity to man, all avoidable, all unnecessary.”
Mrs Higgins was addressing members of Ireland’s Roma community at the Roma Holocaust Memorial Day in Dublin’s Mansion House yesterday and became emotional as she recalled the vast number of lives lost in the genocide.
Approximately 500,000 Roma people were exterminated by the Nazis in the Second World War but the horror was not fully recognised until 1982, meaning they received no compensation or assistance in the aftermath of the war.
In 2011, August 2 was chosen as a day of commemoration of the genocide, was passed.
It is estimated a further 500,000 Roma people were displaced and dispossessed because of the war.
August 2 was chosen as, on that night in 1944, approximately 3,000 Roma people were exterminated in a gas chamber.
Mrs Higgins said the politics of hate must be replaced with respect.
“The politics of hate, fear, and otherness must be rejected and, in its place, we must strive for inclusion, mutual respect, and ethics,” she said. “We must acknowledge that which makes us different and strive to learn from each other to better understand each other, and care for each other.
“This is how we overcome discrimination and we do that through education, mutual respect and love.”
Mrs Higgins stated that the “integrated education of our children” was a necessary step towards creating an inclusive society.
“So in conclusion, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge and remember all who lost their lives during the darkest moment of European history, whether Roma, Jew, gentile, homosexual, people of different physical and mental abilities, and other minority groups,” she said.
“We must never allow ourselves to forget. We must remember.”
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