If you wander the streets of Turkey, you will surely notice men, women or their children who are different from the rest of the public, their hair orange – perhaps they prefer to use this dye rather than others – and their skin are brown, and their clothes are distinctive.
And often you will notice that someone is holding a musical instrument that he can play even if he is a young boy, or maybe he is selling flowers, or a girl dancing with music, these are the “Turkey Gypsies”.
Despite this seemingly happy picture, this picture is far from the reality they are suffering from.
Despite the improvement seen in some aspects of the life of the Turkish Roma in the last decade in terms of their treatment at the official level, this minority still suffers from many problems in the country, ranging from racial discrimination against government level, to poverty and the low level of education.
The Gypsies are a migratory people whose origins go back to northern India, and they are found in the region stretching from Central Asia through Turkey to the Balkans.
Their numbers are in Turkey, like other ethnic minorities. There are no official statistics. Estimates vary between those who say that their number reaches half a million, and those who believe that the number of Roma and the communities living in the style of Roma varies from two million to five million, and they are spread over the entire Turkish geography, and prefer to live in cities or their suburbs.
Like the gypsies in every country they live in, the Turkish gypsies profess Islam without any obvious signs of religiosity in their lives. As for their names, they are no different from the rest of the common names in Turkey.
Turkish Gypsies generally work in seasonal agricultural occupations or collect recyclable waste and carry porters or groups that roam the streets and between restaurants and bars. While the women work as house cleaners, street vendors, or sell flowers in the streets, which is perhaps the only constant occupation of the Roma.
The Roma have their own language, but only a minority of them speak this language, while the majority speak Turkish mixed with some Gypsy words.
Combating racial discrimination against them
The fourth article of the Turkish Housing Law of 1934, which placed Roma with all those who had nothing to do with Turkish culture, anarchists and spies among those whom Turkey would not accept as immigrants, was repealed. As well as the circular based on the previous law, which prevented the granting of Turkish citizenship to gypsies and beggars.
Since the beginning of the millennium, the Turkish Ministry of Education has removed all the inferior descriptions with which the Roma were described, such as meanness, greed, lack of modesty and theft from the Turkish curricula, as well as from the Turkish Encyclopedia and the Islamic Encyclopedia of the Ministry , and also the Turkish Language Complex in 2003 removed all bad descriptions against Roma from Turkish Dictionary. The Turkish word “Gangana”, which carries many of the segregationist meanings used to describe Roma, was removed from official acts and replaced by ” Romans”.
their social life
The Roma in Turkey, as in all the countries in which they live, suffer from extreme poverty and a high incidence of crime, as well as great racism against them, because of their different lifestyles, reinforced by popular myths. Beggar and his wife in prostitution.
Why don’t they integrate into Turkish society?
To answer this question, Huseyin Karaca, a gypsy who plays with a band at the seafood restaurants on the coast of the Smatia district in Istanbul, says: “People look at us and see us laughing, dancing and singing, it’s our nature and our culture, but no one knows our suffering, and no one approaches us or wants to deal with us. With us, we also want to have normal houses, a normal life, houses with bathrooms and bedrooms, and to be able to find work without suffering racism and accusations against us.”
He added: “The rest of the Turkish citizens treat us as criminals. We are also looking for work, but no one is willing to occupy us, and if I did not learn to play from my father, I would have no other have not. way than crime. We may be without education, but it is not because we hate education.” But because we don’t have the money to learn.”
A report issued by the International Minority Rights Group claims that Turkish Roma do not have equal rights with other Turkish citizens to obtain the right to education and housing.
The report indicates that the gypsies seize their houses and build luxury housing with their resettlement in other areas outside the city, as happened in the Solukulla neighborhood in the Fatih district of Istanbul, where the seized gypsies forty kilometers from being housed again. their neighborhood.
Necati Uzbek, a gypsy from Edirne who works with Karaca in the band, adds: “People think that we like to live in ruins, but nobody knows that we don’t have the money to rent houses. They say that if we do not laugh and dance, we will not be able to face everything to which we are exposed, and we will have only one solution left, which is suicide.”