An national federation of women’s groups from Spain’s Roma community has complained of a spate of racist and anti-gypsy messages being disseminated via both traditional and social media in Spain since the outbreak of the country’s coronavirus epidemic.
The Federación de Asociaciones de Mujeres Gitanas Fakali on Tuesday denounced what they say are racist episodes, including the dissemination of malicious fake news and information via social media that they say are “promoting racist psychosis in various parts of our country.”
The anti-gypsy xenophobia on social media include attacks on the Roma community in La Rioja, where a funeral in late-February for a member of the local gitano community brought together about a hundred people and is believed to have been the initial trigger for an outbreak of coronavirus and the COVID-19 disease in the province in and around the city of Haro.
In the nearby Basque Country, false claims were circulated via social messaging apps via an audio recording with a woman’s voice claiming that gitanos in the Basque capital of Vitoria were swarming the local health clinics, falsely claiming coronavirus symptoms so that they could be treated by healthworkers before others.
In a statement, the Fakali federation said that “Experience tells us that episodes of discrimination, racism and intolerance often flourish in the most difficult moments”. The organization called for “calm and understanding” to prevail and encouraged all groups in Spanish society to “come together to beat COVID-19 and the virus of racism.”
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