Germany’s leading Roma and Sinti group has documented hundreds of incidents of discrimination and racism over the past year.
Racial hatred and prejudice against the Roma and Sinti community in Germany is on the rise, according to a report published on Monday which warns of rising right-wing extremism and nationalism.
The Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, the country’s main representative for the two minorities, recorded a total of 621 incidents of discrimination and racism in the past year alone.
Most were cases of prejudice and “verbal stereotyping”, according to the group.
But among those were also 11 cases of direct threats and 17 attacks.
One case of “extreme violence” happened in the western German state of Saarland earlier this year, when members of the Roma and Sinti community were insulted by people in two cars, who then shot them with a compressed air weapon.
According to the Office for Antiziganism Reports that compiled the findings for 2022, the incident left several people injured.
The total number of incidents involving Roma and Sinti people is expected to be even bigger, as many cases are likely unreported.
Roma who have fled the war in Ukraine were disproportionally affected by discrimination, the report says.
There are currently around 60,000 Sinti and 10,000 Roma living in Germany, according to Germany’s Federal Agency for Civil Education, with the two groups recognised as minorities in the country.
While Sinti settled in Germany around the 15th century, as well as in other European countries, Roma arrived in the country relatively recently, around the 19th and 20th centuries.
During the Nazi regime, both Roma and Sinti were persecuted, with an estimated 220,000 to 500,000 being murdered during the Third Reich.
Romani Rose, head of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, told reporters in Berlin the report “clearly shows the dangers of increasing nationalism and right-wing extremism, which again leads to aggression and violence against Sinti and Roma and other minorities.”
The report also pointed out that about half of recorded cases of discrimination took place “at the institutional level”, meaning that it was perpetrated by public employees such as police and youth welfare officers, job centre workers or municipal administrators responsible for accommodating refugees.
“The state must finally take on responsibility and guarantee the protection of Sinti and Roma against violence, exclusion and discrimination,” said Mehmet Daimagueler, the German government’s commissioner against antiziganism.
The term indicates a series of biases, stereotypes, and discrimination against Roma, Sinti, and travellers, who are often stigmatised as “Gypsies”. The term has been widely used as a racial slur.