Roma Industrie hat Konjunktur / The Roma Industry is Booming

Filiz Demirova im Gespräch/ in conversation
Der Paria

“Mit welcher Unverfrorenheit Patricia Koestring (IG- Kultur Österreich) in dem Gespräch behauptet, ich hätte das Honorar von € 100,- für angemessen befunden und sie hätte das auch schriftlich, darüber ärgere ich mich jeden Tag. Vor allem weil die geplante Diskussion mit Filz Demirova, Georgel Caldararu und mir einfach abgesagt wurde. Zudem finde ich es äußerst fraglich, wenn Frau Koestring und Frau Gerbasits (IG-Kultur) Positionen die sich kritisch mit dem Projekt Romanistan auseinandersetzen zensurieren und somit jeden Diskurs verunmöglichen.” (Marika Schmiedt)

“With what audacity Patricia Koestring (IG Culture Austria) claims that I found the honorarium of 100 euros appropriate, and that she has the same in writing. I am angry about that even now. Especially because the discussion planned with me, Filiz Demirova and Georgel Caldararu was cancelled. Further, I find it highly questionable that Frau Koestring and Frau Gerbasits (IG Culture) censor positions that engage critically with the Romanistan project, and make such a discourse impossible.”
(Marika Schmiedt)

The Roma Industry is Booming

00:38 text:
Teodora Tabacki in conversation with Filiz Demirova

Filiz Demirova is an author and activist. Co-founder of the magazine Der Paria, Member of EDEWA, Exhibition organizers (The Purchasing Cooperative of Anti-Racist Resistance) Co-initiator of the protest letter “Stop Organic Garlic Romanes”

Roma communities often do not have access to resources to apply to national or EU funds.
Consequently other organizations and representatives take up the application.

extensive fundraising opportunities Similar problems exist across Europe. No one knows how much money exactly the EU has spent over the years on “Roma Integration”.

TT: What were your experiences, the concrete moments where you felt you were disregarded, or even industrialized?

FD: Well, I was thinking about how to talk about my experiences, and I would like to start by quoting Paulo Freire: We can not enter the struggle as objects, in order to become later subjects. I am a Romni, born in Berlin. I have come to terms with my biography, and want to produce something new, without reproducing clichés.

I participate in projects and respond accordingly, that is, when I find things dubious or problematic, I address them.

I consider it my right, it is legitimate, to express criticism when I find something problematic.

But, in all honesty, I have the impression that criticism is not welcome, because many people profit through the current state of affairs, through the Roma industry.

And naturally people don’t want to simply give up their positions of power, since they profit from it.

It was very difficult for me to have my critique taken seriously, and not just dismissed.

Once, for instance, in a hierarchizing way. I was inferior, because maybe I don’t have a diploma, or a bachelor’s degree, or a PhD or whatever.

The attitude was that things have to be this way, for the reason, that you don’t have the expertise, in the way in which I, as a white German, do. So I have the power and the right to say, no, I prefer the press release to be done this way, because that is what preferred in society, and this is how it should be done.

There were other instances also, like for example, my way of publicizing the event on my blog – it’s up to me to decide how I want to present it.

I have not signed a contract, stating that I’m being paid to advertise this.

But then when I am pressured and told, you have to do it in this way, because that’s the correct way, and if you do it differently, there could be bad consequences, I feel treated like a small child that has made a mistake, and who must be taught the right way.

This paternalistic attitude is quite common in anti-racism work.

This should be thematized much more frequently, this attitude.

I am marked as a Romni – and so I must be taught. These are the norms, these are the rules of this society, and this is how things work.

But: who makes these norms? And who remains unmarked? And why is the white position, the position of power never talked about.

This is my question. Why I made the Other, without the right to carry things out as I prefer.
I have no power, and I can maybe express my criticisms, but they are immediately brushed aside.

First, in general, I would like to say, that it is the norm that mostly non-critical Roma are invited to such conferences. That is, they are marginalized and receive very little attention.

They could contribute valuable work to the Roma movement, but they are not visible, and perhaps even prefer not being in the center because

at many of these conferences discussions are superficial, and only allow for little critique, in order to maintain a certain image.

So while the EU makes these attempts for the equal treatment of Roma etc., there really isn’t an interest in changing the status quo, or in participating in a dialogue and really listening to critical opinions.

Often people with critical opinions are not invited. Concerning Romanistan, I want to thank Teodora for inviting me, here, for this interview.

For instance, Georgel and I tried having Marika Schmiedt at the conference. Unfortunately it didn’t work out for various reasons; for one, when we said we’d like to have Marika for the closing meeting,

this rather excuse-like argument came forth, that that wasn’t their responsibility. For that, we would first have to go to Austria, then get in touch with these people, and so on – these bureaucratic excuses.

07:00 – 07:05:
PK: That is the case though. Sorry about interrupting.

FD: Yes. This is however my opinion and perspective, and I am critical. I would like to finish speaking first, and then you can say something about that.

In any case I find it a bureaucratic excuse because… ideally, a wish should be taken seriously, and an actual attempt should be made to get it underway; and as supporters, at their own initiative, and as per the concept Romanistan is based on:

the encouragement of empowerment. Which implies that Roma should be able to express their wishes, should be able to say whom they would like to invite, whose work and art they would like to engage with, and hence have at the conference.

That’s why I consider it a bureaucratic excuse.

PK: It only required a phone call, or asking what the email address was.

FD: I’d like to add something to that. It’s my opinion, and Marika Schmiedt too was extremely upset about it, the fee of 100 € which I was paid, is also much too little.

That’s the question. How valued is the work of Roma artists and activists. Do they receive the same sorts of fees that white Germans receive?

And what is the interaction with the artists and activists like? Is it respectful? Is it with an attitude which suggests people working together on an equal footing? Or is it rather a hierarchical interaction?

PK: I’d like to say that Marika found the fee of 100 € for participating in the interview reasonable, and I have it in writing.

09:40 text display:
Patricia Köstring IG Culture Austria

Veronika Gerhard: In your place, I wouldn’t get stuck now on this issue. Teodora Tabacki: I don’t want to lose track of the discussion.

09:46 text:
Filiz is obviously correct. That is not true!!! I was very angry about the fee of 100 €.

PK: I don’t want to just leave things at that. She said she found the fee inadequate.

TT: To that question I have to add, that 50 artists and cultural producers participated in the project, and who earned 600 € on average.

The four people who organized the project earned a little less than 6,700 € each. In my opinion, this is a dramatic difference, and really a scandal. It’s interesting that this material discrepancy overlaps with hegemonic forms of interaction.

FD: As someone affected by Anti-Romaism, I find it very problematic that the project claims the organizers included among others Georgel Caldararu and Slavisa Markovic, when they, as I could see, were not entirely granted their rightful say in the process, and were paid less, and had to spend their entire time struggling to put together their cultural production. And I am quite happy to bring up these issues.

It’s a condition which we’ve faced for years. That’s why I think it’s important to talk about them.

I have brought up examples to illustrate these structures. That was my objective.
These examples are relevant to many projects, this is in fact how most Roma projects proceed.

It’s about the substance of these projects. What gets reproduced in these projects? What is new?
What products emerge in the process?

For example, take the exhibition at the Saalbau here in Berlin. A politician from Neukölln, who had also initiated the Organic Garlic Romanes project in Neukölln, an Anti-Roma project, was invited to speak at the opening.

And I think it’s important to address the political context – what is going on here right now, what do we want to do.

This was not considered at all by having this person, who had initiated such a violent project in the very district that we were in, open the exhibition.

Another example: When Hungary is the topic of discussion, and the circumstances there, the persecution and murder of Roma people, these pogroms that are happening, are hardly discussed, there is very little substance to the discussion for me.

I am very politically active, and the questions of how we’re working, and how we’re showing this work, are extremely important to me.

Translation by Simran Sodhi

Fax campaign against the censorship of Roma

Among the many reasons of concern about the political, economic and social crisis affecting the European Union’s civil society today, there is one that in our view has reached a critical level. We are very concerned about the re-establishment and re-legitimization of far-right parties in Eastern and Central Europe.
We are also very concerned about the involvement of the far-right parties in present dynamics of society, about the participation of the far-right parties and fractions in the official decision-making processes of the political scene, along with the presence of the radical right-wing extremists within daily life under the protection of the authorities.

In the last years, there were many attacks and mobs against Roma people all over Europe; just to recall some of them, the mobs and pogroms against Roma in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Hungary from 2011 until today. Despite of the international critics and counter demonstrations, the far-right parties and fractions are still legal and their presence within public spaces is much stronger now than it was before. The legislation of the E.U. is not prepared to face this situation and unfortunately there is no interest from the side of political representatives to fight this volatile situation. Slowly but surely, the European Union turns into a ‘Europe of Nations’ in which minorities are neither respected nor protected.

There are declarations that officially dehumanize minorities: Zolt Bayer, a Hungarian official and a friend of Viktor Orban, declared at the beginning of this year: “Gypsies are animals”. The public opinion has a passive position that legitimates and empowers the far-right. Because of the lack of critics, the structure of the neo-nationalist parties and fractions has become stable and effective. Their strengthened mobs are now much more prepared and – with the support of media platforms that control and filter the information – less visible.

The far-right extremists are not just acting within the borders of their countries. The opening of the exhibition, “Thoughts are free – Anxiety is Reality for Roma in EUrope” by Marika Schmiedt, at the construction fence in Linz, Austria, on the 14th of April, 2013, triggered hatred and violence by an officially-certified tour guide from Austria Guides, Beate Hofstadler, and her Austrian husband.
Before the opening, a collage was torn down and the artist was threatened, repeatedly insulted and her phone was torn out of her hands. After two days and three hours, the whole exhibition had vanished.
The police had removed the artworks because a journalist had pressed charges and because of an evaluation by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, which claimed: “these are racist images”. The name of the journalist is not specified in the statement of the police published in the newspaper Der Standard. We ask ourselves why? Based on this procedure, one of the most committed Roma artists in Europe was attacked and censured.

We consider this attack to be a brutal violation of the freedom of speech. The accusations made against an artist and activist in order to intimidate her, along with all the potential critics of the far-right in Hungary, represent a very dangerous form of political censorship.

Marika Schmiedt’s artworks are a direct critique of the situation that Roma people in Hungary are facing day by day. The decision made by the city of Linz to cancel the exhibition is illegal. Any kind of accusation of racism made against an artist who criticizes racism and discrimination is a contradiction in terms and cannot be sustained by laws. When an institution forbids the right to criticize nationalism and discrimination, then this institution affirms and protects the values of nationalism and supports discrimination.

We ask for immediate reparation and reconsideration of Marika Schmiedt as an artist and activist.

We ask for an immediate and official apology to Marika Schmiedt made by Beate Hofstadler, the city of Linz and the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution in Austria.

We ask for immediate condemnation of the hate speech against Roma people in Hungary and all over the European Union.

We ask for immediate guarantee of the equal rights and protection of Roma people in Hungary and all over the European Union.

We ask for immediate and permanent condemnation of the far-right parties and fractions that promote racist ideologies and hierarchical ethnicization of civil society.

The far-right represents a danger for all the people and for the stability and freedom of civil society as a whole. There is one way to fight racism and xenophobia: to forbid them by law.

We ask civil society to stand up against the alarming rise of neo-nationalism in public life.

With kind regards,

Der Paria
Georgel Caldararu, Filiz Demirova
With many thanks to Jasmina Tumbas for translation support!

If you want to be active and support our campaign,
please send a fax to the following addresses

Council of Europe
Avenue de l`Europe / Strasbourg Cedex / 67075  France
Fax: + 33 (0) 3 88 41 27 99 / E-Mail:

Stadt Linz
Hauptstraße 1-5; 4041 Linz
Fax: + 43 732 7070 54 2110 /

European Court of Human Rights; Council of Europe
Strasbourg Cedex; 67075 France
Fax + 33 (0) 3 88 41 27 30

Bundeskanzleramt Wien:
Ballhausplatz 2; 1014 Wien
Fax: +43 1 531 15 42 74 /



(English version below)

Eine Vernissage am Baustellzaun “Die Gedanken sind frei – Angst ist Alltag für Roma in EUropa” von Marika Schmiedt in Linz, Österreich, am 14.04.2013 löste Hass und Gewalt bei einer staatlich geprüften Stadtführerin der Austria Guides (Beate Hofstadler) und ihrem österreichischen Ehemann aus.
Im Vorfeld der Eröffnung ist eine Collage heruntergerissen worden und die Künstlerin wurde bedroht, mehrmals beschimpft und ihr Telefon wurde ihr entrissen. Nach zwei Tagen und drei Stunden existierte die Ausstellung nicht mehr. Sie wurde von der Polizei entfernt, aufgrund einer Anzeige der ungarischen Fremdenführerin und der Beurteilung des Verfassungsschutzes “es handle sich um rassistische Bilder”. Aufgrund dieses Vorgehens wurde eine der engagiertesten Roma KünstlerInnen in Europa attackiert und zensiert.

Die Ausstellung “dokumentiert die Verhältnisse und soll als Spiegel der verbreiteten aber durchschnittlich nicht wahrgenommenen Rassismen dienen. Obwohl die gegenwärtige Verfolgung eine soziale und politische Situation hervorruft, die an die Zeit des Nationalsozialismus erinnert, hat sich die Mehrheit zum Schweigen entschlossen. Meine Arbeit versucht, das Schweigen zu durchbrechen und den Rassismus zu enthüllen und gleichzeitig der fortschreitenden Diskriminierung entgegenzuwirken.” (Marika Schmiedt)

Offenbar fühlten sich die Stadtführerin und ihr Ehemann angegriffen und werfen Marika vor, dass ihre “Kunst”-Installation verleumderische, rassistische und faschistische Anprangerei des ungarischen Volkes” seien.

“Das Gefühl angegriffen zu werden, wenn Schwarze Personen oder People of Color über Rassismus sprechen, ist ein Teil der Verleugnung, die das Individuum vor Schuld schützt. Das heißt die Lähmung, Schuld oder Scham die solche entsetzlichen Wahrheiten hervorrufen sind so massiv, dass das Individuum es verleugnet und auf andere projiziert. Verleugnung enthält einen Mechanismus, der Objekte oder Gedanken zweiteilt: was gut, schön und positiv ist, wird als das Eigene verstanden; was als schlecht, hässlich und negativ empfunden wird, wird auf andere projiziert. Dieser Mechanismus erlaubt, dass das weiße Subjekt ein positives und makelloses Bild von sich selbst behält während das Schwarze Subjekt als Projektionsfläche für das Entsetzliche dient. So wird die Person, die Rassismus erlebt zum Aggressor gemacht, und der Aggressor zum Opfer.” (Grada Kilomba)

Die ungarischen NationalistInnen konnten die Dokumentation und die Kritik des in Ungarn ausgelebten Hasses gegen Roma, des Antisemitismus und der Homophobie nicht ertragen.
Die Umkehrung vom Täter zum Opfer/ Opfer zum Täter ist Teil eines weissen Abwehrmechanismus und ein Instrument widerständige Positionen zum Schweigen zu bringen.

Die ungarische Fremdenführerin steht unter dem Schutz der Rechtsordnung und der Künstlerin wurde das Recht auf künstlerische und Meinungsfreiheit genommen. Die Verfolgung, Pogrome und der Terror gegen Roma in Ungarn werden weiterhin ignoriert und die Widerstandspositionen von Roma AktivistInnen/KünstlerInnen ent_erwähnt.

Abgesehen davon, dass der antiromaistisch motivierte Angriff keine Konsequenzen für Beate Hofstadler hat, wird der Künstlerin mit weiteren Repressionen gedroht. Fotos von den Collagen wurden an das Büro des ungarischen Ministerpräsidenten geschickt, sowie in eine Rechtsanwaltskanzlei in Wien und es wurde in der Stadt Linz eine Beschwerde eingebracht. Anwältin Dr Eva Maria Barki, Unterstützerin von der Fidesz und Jobbik Partei und selbsternannte Verteidigerin der ungarischen Nation, vertritt Frau Hofstadler bei dem Verfahren. Marika Schmiedt wird nicht als Künstlerin und Aktivistin anerkannt.
Die Stadtführerin nimmt sich sogar das Recht heraus für Roma zu sprechen und kommentierte, dass die “primitiven” Darstellungen auch für das “Roma-Volk” beleidigend und erniedrigend wären.
Die “Anmassung – fuer Roma zu sprechen und gleichzeitig eine Romni zu “schulen” und ihre Kunst als “primitiv” zu bezeichnen – ist ein perfektes Exemplar der vom Rassismus geprägten VorHERRschaft.” (Jasmina Tumbas)

Die Intervention sollte zur Förderung von politischer Bildung und Zivilcourage dienen.
Anhand dieses Vorfalls und den Reaktionen stellt sich zum einen heraus welcher Gefahr Roma ausgesetzt sind und zum anderen wie notwendig diese Art von Interventionen sind. Am 30.04.2013 wurde die Polizei von einer der OrganisatorInnen (Olivia Schütz, Vorstand Stadtwerkstatt) zu einer Stellungnahme aufgefordert. Sie wurden aufgefordert Stellung zu dem unglaublichen Verfahrensvorgang zu nehmen, in dem weder die Künstlerin noch die Veranstalter informiert wurden.
Des Weiteren haben die OrganisatorInnen die Entfernung der Collagen zur Anzeige gebracht.

Wir sind enttäuscht, dass diese Attacke und der Angriff auf die Kunst und Meinungsfreiheit bei der Allgemeinheit auf so wenig Aufmerksamkeit und Interesse stößt. Wie kommt es, dass bereits von zwei rassistischen Internetseiten (, Statements gegen die Künstlerin veröffentlicht wurden, in dem sie wegen Verhetzung des ungarischen Volkes angeprangert wird und nicht ein einziger Artikel erschien, z.B. von einer linken Tageszeitung, in dem über den skandalösen Vorfall berichtet wird? Es kann nicht sein, dass während Roma in Ungarn ermordet und verfolgt werden, Roma die dagegen etwas unternehmen und kritische Stimmen haben, zensiert und bestraft werden. Wir fragen uns wo die Solidarität bleibt, wenn Roma attackiert werden und ihnen das Recht auf Widerstand genommen werden soll? Wir denken, dass es alle Menschen etwas angeht, denn: “Radicals and Nazis are still protected in Austria, as in many other countries. People who educate tries to silence. Offenders present themselves as victims, and the victims are made into criminals. With government support.” (Teona Czamáry) (Übersetzung von Natalie Wagner) “Radikale und Nazis werden in Österreich immer noch beschützt, wie in vielen anderen Ländern auch. Menschen die bilden werden zum Schweigen gebracht.
TäterInnen präsentieren sich als Opfer, und die Opfer werden zu Kriminellen gemacht.
Mit Unterstützung der Regierung.”
(Teona Czamáry)

Am 04.05.2013 publizierte, die meist besuchte und zentrale Plattform ungarischer Rechtsextremer, einen Artikel über den Vorfall in Linz. “Die Seite verbreitet extrem aggressive antisemitische, antiromaistische (A.v.d.R.), chauvisnistische und homophobe Inhalte und organisiert periodisch regelrechte Hetzjagden auf Personen, bevorzugt unter der Rubrik “Sammelplatz für genetischen Müll”, manchmal mit furchtbaren Folgen.” (Keno Verseck) Rechtsextreme sind jetzt aufmerksam auf Marika Schmiedt und ihre Arbeit geworden.

Der Paria ruft zur internationalen Solidarität mit Roma auf!
Beteiligt euch an unserer geplanten Faxkampagne!

Der Paria
Filiz Demirova, Georgel Caldararu.

Call for international solidarity with Roma

The opening of the exhibition, “Thoughts are free – Anxiety is Reality for Roma in EUrope” by Marika Schmiedt at the construction fence in Linz, Austria, on the 14th of April, 2013, triggered hatred and violence of an officially-certified tour guide from Austria Guides (Beate Hofstadler) and her Austrian husband. Before the opening, a collage was ripped off and the artist was threatened, repeatedly insulted and her phone was torn out of her hands. After two days and three hours, the whole exhibition vanished. The police had removed it because the Hungarian tour guide had pressed charges and because of the evaluation by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, which claimed “these are racist images”. Based on this procedure, one of the most committed Roma artists in Europe was attacked and censured.

The exhibition “documents the circumstances and should serve as a mirror of the widely spread but commonly ignored racisms. Even though the current persecution creates social and political situations reminiscent of the times of National Socialism, the majority has decided to stay silent. My work tries to break that silence, expose racism, and simultaneously counteract the continuing discrimination.” (Marika Schmiedt)

Apparently the tour guide and her husband felt attacked and accused Marika and “her ‘art’-installation [of being] a defamatory, racist and fascist denunciation of the Hungarian people.”

“The feeling of being attacked when Black people and People of Color talk about racism is part of the denial which protects the individual from guilt. This means that the paralysis, guilt or shame caused by such horrible truths is so massive that the individual denies it and projects it onto others.
Denial includes a mechanism which splits objects or thoughts in two parts: That which is good, beautiful and positive is understood as the own; that which is perceived as bad, ugly and negative is being projected onto others. This mechanism allows for the white subject to keep a positive and flawless image of oneself while the Black subject serves as a projection screen for the horrible. This way the person who experiences racism is made the aggressor and the aggressor is made the victim.”
(Grada Kilomba)

The Hungarian nationalists couldn’t bear the documentation and the critique of the hate against Roma, the anti-Semitism and the homophobia openly acted out in Hungary. The inversion from aggressor to victim victim to aggressor is part of a white defense mechanism and an instrument to silence resisting positions.

The Hungarian tour guide is under protection of state law and the artist was deprived of her right to freedom of opinion and art. The persecution, pogroms and terror against Roma in Hungary are still being ignored and the resisting positions of Roma activists/artists are being un_mentioned.

Apart from the fact that the attack -motivated by anti-Romaism- has no consequences for Beate Hofstadler, the artist is being threatened with further repressions. Photos of the collages have been sent to the office of the Hungarian prime minister as well as to a law office in Vienna and a complaint was filed in the city of Linz. The lawyer Dr. Eva Maria Barki, supporter of the Fidesz and the Jobbik party and self-proclaimed defender of the Hungarian nation, represents Ms. Hofstadler during the proceeding.
Marika Schmiedt is not being recognized as an artist and activist. The tour guide even claims the right to speak for Roma and commented that the “primitive” images are also offensive and degrading for the “Roma people”. Hofstadler’s “insolence – to speak on behalf of Roma and simultaneously “school” a Romni, in addition to declaring her art to be “primitive” – is a perfect example of racially motivated supremacy.” (Jasmina Tumbas)

The intervention was supposed to promote political education and civil courage. On the one hand, this incident and the reactions expose the dangers Roma have to face; on the other hand, it also shows how necessary these kinds of interventions are. On the 30th of April 2013, the police was asked by the organizer (Olivia Schütz, Executive Management Stadtwerkstatt) to make a statement about their preposterous procedure, as neither the artist nor the organizers were informed of the removal of the artworks. Moreover, the organizers have also pressed charges.

We are disappointed that this attack and assault on the freedom of art and opinion has received such little attention and interest in the general public. Why is it that two racist web pages (, already published statements against the artist, accusing her of denouncing the Hungarian people, and not even one article has been published about this scandalous incident in a leftist newspaper, for example? It is unacceptable that while Roma are being murdered and persecuted in Hungary, Roma who are active against this and who have critical voices are censored and punished. We ask ourselves: where is the solidarity when Roma are attacked and deprived of their right to resistance?
We think that this concerns everybody, because: “Radicals and Nazis are still protected in Austria, as in many other countries. People who educate try to silence. Offenders present themselves as victims, and the victims are made into criminals. With government support.” (Teona Czamáry)

On the 4th of May 2013,, the most visited and central platform of Hungarian right-wing extremists, published an article about the incident in Linz. “The page spreads extreme aggressive anti-Semitic, anti-Romaistic (E.N.), chauvinistic and homophobic contents and organizes periodically downright hunts of people, preferably in the category “collecting point of genetic trash“, sometimes with terrible consequences.“ (Keno Verseck) Right-wing extremists’ attention is now drawn to Marika Schmiedt and her work.

Der Paria calls for international solidarity with Roma!
Take part in our planned fax campaign!

Der Paria,
Filiz Demirova, Georgel Caldararu
Translation by Jasmina Tumbas, Natalie Wagner