Last week, literally every segment of Romanian society got to show its ugly racist side.
Everything started in the tiny village (~5000 people) of Ditró, known in Romanian as Ditrău, in the heart of Szekelyland, Romania’s favorite place to be racist.
The story began a few months ago when a (Hungarian) woman who owns a bakery secured some funds from the European Union to expand her operation. As such, she posted job ads throughout the region but got no takers.
Romanian law permits the hiring of foreign workers under special circumstances, one of which is that an employer must make an earnest effort to find locals first before hiring a foreigner.
Since the bakery failed to find anyone locally, they hired a recruitment firm out of Bucharest which specializes in foreign workers. And two men, both from Sri Lanka, were hired by the recruitment firm and sent to the bakery in Ditró.
It is extremely important to note here that both men are legally employed and legally residing in Romania, and both men are qualified bakers (in Romania, being a baker is considered a skilled labor position).
But immediately after they arrived, the town of Ditró revolted. Apparently, they honestly thought that the Sri Lankans were “gypsies”, possibly, maybe due to a conflict that took place in Ditró in 1986 between the Hungarian residents and a nearby town inhabited by gypsies.
What really upset the residents of Ditró, however, was quite literally that brown hands were touching their precious white bread. Because, obviously, that’s what bakers do – they use their hands to knead and form dough.
The villagers then started terrorizing their fellow Hungarian neighbor who was renting a room to the Sri Lankan bakers. The owner of the bakery then removed the Sri Lankans to a different village, but the same thing happened again, so the Sri Lankans are now living in a third, even more distant village.
That still wasn’t good enough for the racist villagers, who then got their local priest to lead a lynch mob of some 200 people, demanding that the mayor do something to stop “the incoming wave of refugees who are going to rape our women and build mosques everywhere.”
I only wish I were making that up.
The priest works for the Saint Katalin Catholic Church, the only church in the village. When he found out that one of the Sri Lankans was, ironically, Catholic (the other is Buddhist, not that it matters), he refused to change his mind or apologize.
His boss, the archbishop of Alba Iulia, strongly rebuked the priest, saying he had exceeded his authority and that “Jesus’s message was one of love.” The priest again refused to apologize except for the fact that he had disobeyed his archbishop’s order not to get involved.
By the way, here’s what the Catholic Sri Lankan told Romanian state media:
I’m married, and I have a child who is in high school right now. That’s why I’m working in Romania, to be able to send my family money to help with school. I also have one sister and one brother. My sister is a nurse and my brother is a Catholic priest. I come from a good family.
Several villagers created a Facebook group called “Ditró Doesn’t Want No Damn Migrants” and filled it with racist posts, comparing the Sri Lankans to Muslim terrorists, Chinese virus carriers, rapists, monkeys, and all kinds of other ignorant horseshit.
Facebook, of course, has done nothing to shut down this group.
Meanwhile, as elections are coming up later this year, the mayor of Ditró held a town hall meeting where he threw up his hands up and effectively said that he wants “things to calm down” but that there’s nothing he can do if his constituents are racist shit bags.
The bakery owner, meanwhile, temporarily mollified the villagers by saying she would give the bakers different jobs in the bakery where they “won’t be touching the bread.”
But a few days later, she said that her press release (which had been written in Hungarian) had been “mistranslated” in Romanian and that no, the bakers will be getting their brown hands on Hungarian white flour even though sales are way, way down.
Insult to Injury
Seeing the horrific site of a village priest leading a mob of racist villagers in the year 2020 in a country that is a member of the European Union caused every major Romanian figure to pile on to the scandal.
Cristian Tudor Popescu, a so-called “respected” journalist, said that “every racist Hungarian in Ditró speaks shit Romanian, and that’s why they’re so stupid and racist.” Others said that “if those Hungarians spoke the state language [i.e. Romanian], they’d know what the laws of the state are [i.e. that discrimination is illegal].”
Others jumped in as well, saying that “those Hungarians in Ditró are racist because they listen to Viktor Orban [the president of Hungary]”. Right. Completely Orban’s fault and not, say, because Romania is also a hella racist country.
Meanwhile, mainstream politicians from Romania’s big parties all passed the buck over to UDMR, since Hungarian “problems” are UDMR’s job to fix. But UDMR, of course, is also wary of the upcoming elections. And while the UDMR never holds more than 10% of the seats in parliament, they play a key swing role in most of Romania’s governing coalitions.
The “racist Hungarians” angle caused every racist Romanian to shout with glee because this time it wasn’t they who were the racist ones, unlike, say, two weeks ago when the very much Romanian mayor, Dorin Florea, of Tirgu Mures, used Facebook to call for Nazi-style eugenics in order to “control” the gypsies in his city.
So far, absolutely nobody in Ditró has apologized for their racism. And since the mayor doesn’t really want to get involved, nobody has yet figured out a long-term solution to this issue.
It’s worth mentioning here that the two Sri Lankan bakers are legally employed and therefore pay taxes to the Romanian state. As such, they are entitled to every protection under the law as any other employee in Romania.
But the government has failed to do jack shit to help them so far (although I see now that the Harghita County police have opened an investigation into a hate speech case (link in Hungarian)).
At the moment though, the National Council for Combating Discrimination is investigating the matter, but if they do find anyone guilty, the most they can do is impose a cash fine.
It’s also worth mentioning here that Romania has the lowest rate of legal immigration (foreigners coming to Romania) and the highest rate of emigration (Romanians going to work abroad) in the European Union.
So far, the perennially cluelessly EU seemingly hasn’t cottoned on to the situation, but I am sure that they will soon issue a strongly worded statement that everyone can then safely ignore.
Meanwhile, this story is nowhere close to finishing, partly because the bakery (which, oddly enough, every single media outlet in Romania has refused to name even though it is almost certainly Fapikom Gyergyóditró) isn’t going to fire their two badly-needed Sri Lankan bakers and they have five more “brown-skinned” bakers (from Sri Lanka and Nepal) scheduled to arrive in the near future.
Therefore, I’m quite sure we’re in for a lot more ugliness before this thing gets finally resolved, and Facebook will continue to be the go-to safe place for racist assholes everywhere.