Jobbik sparked an uproar by calling for Jews in the country to be registered. Jobbik supporters demonstrate outside a housing project with many Roma residents in October 2012. | REUTERS image, courtesy Der Spiegel
t would be a mistake to think that the Roma gypsy will lie down and die just because Europeans have been trying to wipe them out for the last 500 years at least.
A little over 600 years ago, when Europe was under oppressive Catholic Church, it was the Roma Gypsy who probably liberated Europe.
People in modern India have little or no idea about the roots of Europe. A recent visitor from India, on a European holiday, ‘innocent’ of Europe’s past, came across the ‘real’ Europe.
Take a walk in one of the narrow, cobbled alleys that run round in a maze in the heart of the Jewish quarter adjoining the Mezquita. There is a little museum here, somewhat nondescript and often missed by tourists. What it displays stabs at your idea of a wondrous legacy. The Exhibition of Medieval Instruments of Torture is one of the most complete of its kind in Europe. It traces the 700 year history (13th-19th century) of refinement of torture methods used largely, but not exclusively, under the Spanish Inquisition. For the visitor, entering it is a free fall from the sense of grace and peace of the mosque-cathedral, a plunge into a den of madness. A reminder that the Middle Ages were not only about romance, knights and fair maidens, or ballads and religiosity, they were violent and bloodthirsty; that beauty and ugliness went hand in hand; that the most grotesque forms of cruelty lay just under the veneer of some of man’s most amazing deeds.
While torture was pervasive in all of Europe, it held a special place under the Inquisition, this ecclesiastical tribunal that rose in a response to what had been the multi-religious nature of Spanish society. It followed the reconquest of Spain from the Muslims (or Moors — the appellation is used in a general way) who had ruled over large parts of what are today Spain and Portugal (the capital Cordoba fell in 1236, Seville a few years later, while Granada held out till 1492). King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castille — under whose patronage began the great discoveries of the world, mariners setting sail for new lands — including the voyage of Christopher Columbus (she ordered a fleet to be fitted out for him) — intended to replace Medieval orthodoxy with their own Catholic orthodoxy. The rule of Catholic Monarchs (as Ferdinand and Isabella are known), called the Golden Age, strove for religious conformity and for the final reunification of Spain. Thus began the story of forced conversions, expulsions, detentions/torture and expulsions. The last Moorish king, Boabdil, it is said, wept and sighed as he surrendered his beloved Alhambra citadel in Granada. His mother’s response to his tears was icy: “Don’t weep like a woman for the city you could not defend like a man!”
The jungle of torture instruments in the Cordoba Museum have a longer history. They hark back to the early Middle Ages and would be in use until the 19th century. Torture was a normal way of extracting confessions, discouraging dissent and intellectual freedom and persuading Jews, Muslims, Protestants and heretics of all hues to accept the Catholic faith. But it was also inflicted on those practising bigamy, sodomy, superstition and witchcraft. Sex, age or gender made no difference. Women, children and the aged were all its victims. The arrest of an individual, done stealthily, was the first step in a harrowing path. The trial, or a charade rather, took place in a whimsically formed court, propelled as much by differences of creed as gossip and envy. The collection of authentic instruments shows how ingeniously the human mind worked, and how the process of “finding out the truth” was as crafty as it was vile in the extreme.
Among the most famous of these devices was the rack. The victim would be laid on this rectangular frame that had a board. His hand and legs would be tied to the ends of the board while the turning of rollers placed at the ends of the board would yank his body in opposite directions till every joint popped. Guy Fawkes (better known for his ‘gunpowder plot’ in Britain), and the Elizabethan playwright Thomas Kyd suffered the rack before they died. So, I believe, did Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII.
The Water Wheel, set in a pool of water, had the victim tied on its rim. The wheel would be turned, dunking the victim into water with every spin and inhumanly stretching his joints and muscles.
The garrotte was an ancient Roman contraption. Astonishingly, it was around in Spain till as recently as 1974. In an earlier day, the victim would be tied to a pole. This was later replaced by a chair. A cord, a wire or an iron collar with spikes would be tightened round the neck, leading to both strangulation and the breaking of the vertebrae.
The Inquisition devised the sickening Judas Cradle or a seat, atop of which was planted pyramid-like metal device. On this, the victim would be impaled, the pyramid penetrating his/her anus or vagina which would then be turned inside the organ. The word head crusher speaks for itself. As the head got crushed by the bloody instrument, it had the victim’s teeth imploding in their sockets, the jaw bones smashing, the eyes popping out and bits of brain squirting from the ears.
I hesitate to describe more. The museum has an array of torture devices, one more merciless than the other. What, one may ask, is the point of listing them? I realised in Cordoba that the mind is truly unhinged by this sudden plunge from the surrounding glory to a den of perversity. And yet you are trapped in a kind of fascination-revulsion, a deadly thrall, as you might be if you were suddenly pitted against a wild animal. If the aim was to frighten the wits (and life) out of real or fake suspects, these devices certainly did their job. Drowning, starving, whipping, crushing (head crushers were admirably efficient), burning, disfiguring, maiming with as much pain as you could possibly inflict — all this happened
via Sculpting Tools of Death.
From Library of entertaining knowledge, Volume 13
By Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (Great Britain) – 1835
The Hussite Wars broke the back of the Catholic armies –
never to regain their former power. As British power reared its head, in early 17th century, Guy Fawkes decided to blow up the power centre of Britain – the Westminster Palace and Westminster Abbey.
In both these cases, the difference was gunpowder. Gunpowder and Roma gypsies.
From at least 12th century till a hundred years ago, for 800 years, the biggest source of gunpowder elements was India. The Roma Gypsies who trace their origin to India were the European experts in gunpowder.
Over the last 10 years there has been a rising tide of violence against the Roma Gypsy. In Northern Ireland, across Italy and now in Hungary.
Zsolt Bayer, a prominent conservative commentator, has sparked outrage in Hungary and abroad for comparing Roma to animals and calling for a ”
final solution to the gypsy question.” Criticism of the remarks is growing, but Prime Minister Orbán will likely keep silent.
Zsolt Bayer always pipes up whenever the Hungarian media mentions that Roma are suspected of involvement in a crime. The influential right-wing commentator then makes suggestions on what, in his words, a “final solution to the Gypsy question” could be. For example, he has written: “Whoever runs over a Gypsy child is acting correctly if he gives no thought to stopping and steps hard on the accelerator.”
Bayer’s most recent hate-filled tirade came last Saturday after a bar fight and stabbing on New Year’s Eve in which some of the attackers were reportedly Roma. Writing in the ultra-right-wing newspaper Magyar Hirlap, which has close ties to the conservative government, Bayer argued for what amounts to genocide. He wrote:
“A significant part of the Roma are unfit for coexistence. They are not fit to live among people. These Roma are animals, and they behave like animals. When they meet with resistance, they commit murder. They are incapable of human communication. Inarticulate sounds pour out of their bestial skulls. At the same time, these Gypsies understand how to exploit the ‘achievements’ of the idiotic Western world. But one must retaliate rather than tolerate. These animals shouldn’t be allowed to exist. In no way. That needs to be solved — immediately and regardless of the method.”
At the same time, investigators have yet to nail down all the facts surrounding the crime. What is known is this: On New Year’s Eve, a massive brawl broke out in a bar in Szigethalom, a town near Budapest. During the fight, two young athletes — a wrestler and a boxer — suffered serious stabbing wounds. The police arrested one Roma, and another suspect is still being sought.
Bayer isn’t just some random pathological Roma-hater. Instead, the 49-year-old is one of the founding members of the country’s conservative governing Fidesz party and a close friend of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Although Bayer holds no official position, he is known within the party as someone with the pluck to express uncomfortable truths
Cracks in the Party
In recent years, Bayer’s anti-Roma and anti-Semitic articles have sparked repeated outrage. But no one within the Fidesz party leadership has ever taken public offense at the commentaries of its former chief press officer — until now. Tibor Navracsics, who is both justice minister and deputy prime minister, has joined Roma organizations and Hungary’s Jewish community in condemning Bayer’s most recent column — and called for his ouster from the party. On the private television channel ATV, he said that there is no place in an organization like Fidesz for someone who considers an entire group of people to be animals. In fact, even Tamás Deutsch, a prominent co-founder of Fidesz and member of the European Parliament who has publicly acknowledge being friends with Bayer, called the article “shameful.”
This is already the second time in recent weeks that prominent Fidesz politicians have openly distanced themselves from racial hatred. On Dec. 2, Antal Rogán, the party’s parliamentary floor leader, spoke at a protest against anti-Semitism after Márton Gyöngyösi, a representative of the right-wing extremist Jobbik party, had demanded in parliament that “all Jews living in Hungary be registered” and that “Jews, particularly those in parliament and the government, be evaluated for the potential danger they pose to Hungary.” The demonstration against anti-Semitism was noteworthy for marking the first time in two decades that all of the pro-democracy parties in Hungary’s parliament jointly attended a single event.
‘The Party Speaks with Two Tongues’
Nevertheless, critics doubt that Fidesz — and Prime Minister Orbán, in particular — will distance themselves from right-wing extremism, anti-Semitism and antiziganism, a term denoting racism toward the Sinti and Roma.
Kristián Ungváry, a historian who has just published a 700-page book on the interwar years of the right-wing extremist Horthy regime, describes the party’s policies as a “sham.”
“The party speaks with two tongues,” Ungváry says. “On the one hand, one distances oneself from right-wing extremism in order to maintain a good reputation abroad and because one notes that the political damage would be too severe. On the other hand, Fidesz pays tribute to anti-Semitic writers of the interwar period, such as Albert Wass and József Nyírö, or expresses right-wing extremist positions in regime-friendly newspapers.”
This is especially the case with Prime Minister Orbán, whose public statements started moving farther and farther toward the right-wing extreme some time ago. This culminated last September, when Orbán delivered a “blood and soil” speech about the values of the Hungarian nation during a dedication ceremony for a monument. “The archetypal image of the Turul bird is the archetypal image of the Hungarians,” he said, referring to the most important bird in the origin myth of ethnic Hungarians. “It is part of blood and homeland. We, the Hungarians of national solidarity, must squeeze all disunity out of Hungarian life. Strong nations stick together; weak ones break apart.”
On the other hand, Orbán refrained from publicly commenting on Jobbik’s call for registering Jews in Hungary. Indeed, it wasn’t until a few days later that Orbán distanced himself in parliament from right-wing extremism, though in very general way. At the same time, a law was passed that permits monetary fines to be levied on parliamentarians who make racist statements.
A Deed Likely to Go Unpunished
György Dalos, a prominent writer and biographer, doesn’t believe that Fidesz will fundamentally alter its two-faced policies. “Voters on the left run away from it on account of its restrictive social policies, so they need the voters on the right,” Dalos says. “And it will continue to attract them with the appropriate rhetoric.”
Attila Nagy, a political scientist at Budapest’s Méltanyosság Institute, admits that there is genuine outrage about right-wing extremism in some parts of Fidesz. “But,” he adds, “this part, which backs a clearer pro-European course, is currently not a decisive one within the party.”This, along with the fact that Justice Minister Navracsics has a reputation for holding little sway within the party, also makes it more likely that his call to have Zsolt Bayer ejected from the party will go unheeded. In any case, Fidesz spokeswoman Gabriella Selmeczi made this clear during a televised interview on ATV last Monday. She said that since Bayer had expressed his opinion as a commentator rather than as a Fidesz member in the incriminating article, the party would not take a stance on it.
via Hungarian Journalist Calls for Final Solution of Roma Issue – SPIEGEL ONLINE.