Editorial

No to Romania’s Schengen entry

ImageFrench President Francois Hollande will block Romania’s bid to enter the Schengen zone on January 1, 2014, according to an unnamed source from the French Government.

Quoted by the French media, the source claimed the French President supports the position of France’s Interior Minister Manuel Valls, who recently expressed concerns over the influx of Roma to the country.

As a consequence of this firm line, Hollande will reject Romanian’s ascension to the passport free zone, the source states.

 “An associate of the President is categorical: Romania will be refused the Schengen entry on January 1, 2014, as the conditions are not met,” The French website Europe1.fr writes.

“Most of the Roma are destined to be escorted back to their origin country.”

The statement quoted by TheEurope1.fr is in line with remarks recently made by Manuel Vells.

However this time, the comments were attributed to Francois Hollande.

“Only a minority seeks to integrate,” he is reported to have said.

Europe1.fr added that the President’s opinion goes further than concerns over a Roma influx and takes into account the difficulties faced by elected officials.

The president asks: “Whether France is destined to host all those most vulnerable?”

The statement, notes Europe1.fr, echoes the words of Michel Rocard, who back in 1990 said: “France can’t host all the misery of the world”.

Recently, Marine Le Pen, leader of the French National Front, has also expressed her concerns over Romania and Bulgaria’s Schengen entry.

However, earlier in September, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said Romania and Bulgaria have met the criteria for Schengen area membership and should be given a chance to enter the zone as soon as possible.

Both countries have been refused access into the Schengen area in the last few years, with several countries taking turns in opposing it.

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Editorial

Romani People in Europe Update

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Romii sunt rareori bineveniţi în ţările europene care, în majoritatea cazurilor, întâmpină dificultăţi în a le asigura condiţii decente de viaţă, în pofida faptului că mai multe programe de inserţie au fost lansate în ultimii ani, relatează AFP.

– Germania: Numărul persoanelor provenind din România, Bulgaria sau Ungaria, majoritatea de etnie romă, s-a triplat în ultimii patru ani. În 2012, 117.000 de cetăţeni români, 59.000 de cetăţeni bulgari şi 55.000 de cetăţeni ungari s-au instalat în Germania.

 

Mai multe oraşe au cerut resurse suplimentare de la guvern pentru a absorbi valurile de nou-veniţi, în timp ce unele dintre ele, precum Duisburg (vest), i-au considerat ca o şansă de a se repopula, în pofida opoziţiei puternice a populaţiei autohtone.

Ministrul de Interne în exerciţiu, Hans-Peter Friedrich, se opune categoric intrării României şi Bulgariei în spaţiul Schengen. Pe de altă parte, Berlinul doreşte să elimine vizele pentru cetăţenii Serbiei şi Macedoniei, două ţări populate de numeroşi romi.

– Ungaria: Având între 500.000 şi 600.000 de romi la o populaţie de zece milioane de locuitori, Ungaria este atât o ţară “expeditoare”, cât şi de “destinaţie”. În 2011, Guvernul ungar a lansat un program de integrare, dar rezultatele sale se fac aşteptate. Situaţia romilor, victime ale discriminărilor, s-a înrăutăţit din cauza crizei economice şi măsurilor de austeritate, care i-au afectat mai grav decât pe restul populaţiei.

– Grecia: Aproximativ 300.000 de romi trăiesc în Grecia, majoritatea dintre ei în condiţii mizerabile. În pofida ajutoarelor sociale provenind din programe europene, integrarea lor rămâne literă moartă, aşa cum deplâng frecvent organizaţiile internaţionale, inclusiv ONU.

– Italia: Între 140.000 şi 160.000 de romi trăiesc în Italia, potrivit comunităţii catolice Sant’Egidio. Dacă majoritatea dintre ei, prezenţi de mai mult timp, sunt integraţi, alţii, sosiţi mai recent, trăiesc în tabere instalate la periferiile oraşelor. Ministrul Integrării, Cecile Kyenge, a promis să reflecteze asupra creării unui “statut juridic” pentru romi, care le-ar permite să acceadă mai uşor la servicii de sănătate, mai ales.

– Belgia: Guvernul a adoptat în 2012 o “Strategie naţională pentru integrarea romilor” care urmăreşte să lupte împotriva discriminărilor şi să favorizeze accesul la locuri de muncă, la învăţământ şi la locuinţe pentru aproximativ 30.000 de romi din Europa de Est ce s-au instalat în această ţară. Dar, potrivit Centrului pentru egalitate de şanse şi luptă împotriva rasismului, stereotipurile privind comunitatea romă “persistă”.

– Polonia: Situaţia comunităţii rome, estimată la cel puţin 50.000 de persoane, este mai bună decât în ţările vecine, dar 30% dintre copii nu sunt şcolarizaţi, potrivit autorităţilor.

– Portugalia: Comunitatea romă din Portugalia numără aproximativ 50.000 de persoane. În pofida existenţei unei structuri de sprijin încă din 2007 şi punerii în aplicare în 2011 a unui plan de integrare, membrii săi fac obiectul unor discriminări puternice şi trăiesc în condiţii precare.

– Cehia: Romii, al cărui număr este estimat la aproximativ 300.000, se confruntă cu manifestări ostile, începând din 2008, care ultima dată au escaladat în ciocniri la Ceske Budejovice (sud).

– Slovacia: Romii reprezintă aproximativ 10% din populaţie, potrivit estimărilor. Jumătate dintre ei sunt bine integraţi, în timp ce alţii trăiesc în 650 de tabere lipsite adesea de electricitate şi apă potabilă. Clasele speciale întrunesc peste 40% din copiii lor.

– Suedia: O dezvăluire a presei, făcută luni şi marţi, cu privire la existenţa a două registre ale poliţiei, în care sunt înscrişi peste 4.000 şi respectiv 1.000 de romi, a provocat un scandal. În 2012, Guvernul a deblocat 46 de milioane de coroane suedeze (5,3 milioane de euro) pentru o perioadă de patru ani, cu scopul de a elimina discriminările până la orizontul anului 2032. Suedia a fost deja criticată de Consiliul Europei pentru expulzarea unor persoane de etnie romă în ţări în care sunt victime ale unor discriminări mai grave, precum Serbia şi Kosovo.

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Audio, Editorial

Gitanos de Portugal

http://www.rtve.es/alacarta/audios/gitanos/gitanos-portugal-07-09-13/2013073/

Gitanos de Portugal con motivo de la exposición Vidas Gitanas que será inaugurada en Lisboa el 23 de septiembre. Nos lo cuenta José Luis Fernández, comisario de la muestra.

Y escuchamos el fado flamenco del grupo Ciganos D¿ouro, una selección de tangos extremeños y fronterizos cantados en portugués, y a la gran fadista gitana Cedalia Moreira.

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Audio, Editorial, Video

The Streets of Cairo in Coney Island from 1890s-1900s

There are surely hundreds of regional interpretations of this tune, few knows of its origin and its importance to the New York City midway and sideshows of the early nineteenth century. Best known as “The Streets of Cairo,” it is oftentimes connected to visions of Arabia and Egypt, to snake charmers, belly dancers, and other mysterious notions of Near East mysticism.

Although not quite “a place in France,” there were certain locations in New York where the fabled song came to life. “The Streets of Cairo” sideshow was constructed on Surf Avenue, Coney Island, after the success of the Algerian Village at the World’s Columbian Exhibition in Chicago in 1893.

Sol Bloom, the entertainment director of the Columbian exposition, claimed to have composed the melody as the theme for the “Algerian” performances. (The song can actually be traced back much further to the 1700s Arabic song “Kradoutja”). Because Bloom did not copyright the song, New York vaudevillian entertainers quickly purloined the tune.

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Byron and Company. Show at Coney Island with a man “levitating” a woman on stage, ca. 1908.

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Byron and Company. Crowd wandering through the “Streets of Cairo” show with camels at Coney Island, ca 1896.

The Victorian taste for Oriental exoticism was insatiable. It was a time of ardent ethnographic interest; the richly illustrated National Geographic Magazinelaunched in 1888 and commercial photographs of the region were sold for home entertainment in the form of stereographs and ready-made travel albums. The awe-inspiring sight of the ancient, enigmatic pyramids and startlingly divergent culture was both frightening and alluring. During a time when overseas tourism was reserved for the elite, “The Streets of Cairo” transformed the sands of Coney Island Beach into that of an Arabic desert for the middle and working classes. It is likely that the Atlantic Ocean beyond its walls was a welcomed mirage on sweltering summer days.

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Byron and Company. Crowd watching a barker at the “Streets of Cairo” show at Coney Island, ca 1896.

The above photograph depicts the carnival “barker.”  Perhaps he is shouting this enticing pitch:

“This way for the Streets of Cairo! One hundred and fifty Oriental beauties! The warmest spectacle on earth! Pre-sen-ting Little Egypt! See her prance, see her wriggle! See her dance the Hootchy Kootchy! Anywhere else but in the ocean breezes of Coney Island she would be consumed by her own fire! Don’t rush! Don’t crowd! Plenty of seats for all!…When she dances, every fiber and every tissue in her entire anatomy shakes like a jar of jelly from your grandmother’s Thanksgiving dinner. Now, gentlemen, I don’t say that she’s hot. But I do say that she is as hot as a red hot stove on the fourth day of July in the hottest county in the state.”
Good Old Coney Island, Edo McCullough

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Byron and Company. Woman gypsy/dancer posing outside at Coney Island, ca 1896. Museum of the City of New York.

“Little Egypt” became an adopted stage name for the main dancers of the “Streets of Cairo” exhibit, the most famous of whom were Farida Mazar Spyropoulos, Ashea Wabe, and Fatima Djemille. The “hootchy cootchy” they performed was a caricature of traditional Middle Eastern dance that was more like an early form of burlesque. Although under an ethnographic guise, this risqué performance was perceived as quite provocative at the time.  This oriental cliché quickly became a fad (up to 20 “cootchy shows” would be performed at one time) and “Little Egypt” attained celebrity status. Ashea Wabe made front page news when she was busted for dancing at socialite Herbert Seeley’s Fifth Avenue Bachelor Party in 1896; the scandal came to an unfortunate end in 1906 when she was found dead by asphyxiation, leaving behind a $200,000 fortune.

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Byron and Company. Woman gypsy/dancer seated in her side-show theatre at Coney Island, ca 1896. Museum of the City of New York.

This photograph depicts a “Little Egypt” dancer smoking a Hookah in her harem. One can imagine the scent of tobacco and incense in the densely packed theatre. Even at Coney Island, the attire of the audience would have been conservative, with suit jackets and long dresses scarcely baring an ankle or wrist. In stark contrast, the dancer’s gauzy silks and potentially exposed midriff must have been startling.

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Byron and Company. A woman in a carnival or side-show with three large pythons, ca 1895. Museum of the City of New York.

A precedent to “The Streets of Cairo,” female snake charmers added a touch of Eastern mysticism to the classic side show lineup. The snake charming tradition dates back to Ancient Egypt and is still practiced today at the Coney Island Circus Sideshow.

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Byron and Company. Arabian Acrobats demonstrating acrobatic feats on the roof of Hammerstein’s Victoria Theatre, ca 1908. Museum of the City of New York.

For those who chose not to make the expedition down to Coney Island for their Oriental fix, the uniquely landscaped roof of Hammerstein’s Victoria (42nd Street at 7th Avenue) served as an alternative. Hammerstein produced a vaudeville adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s Salomé that emphasized  the notorious “Dance of the Seven Veils” and ran an astonishing 22 weeks. The above photograph depicts the incredible feats of strength performed by Arabic acrobats, it is possible that a similar display was presented as an opening act.

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Byron and Company. The operatic adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s “Salome” with music by Richard Strauss, presented at the Metropolitan Opera House on January 22, 1907. Museum of the City of New York.

In 1907 the Near East dance fad attempted to cross over from sideshow to center stage when the Metropolitan Opera presented Richard Strauss’s interpretation of Oscar Wilde’s Salomé. It was the most elaborate and expensive production to date, costing nearly $20,000. The famous belly dance and kissing finalé was considered a disgrace and the show closed after the opening night, and would not be performed at the Met again for twenty-seven years.  The  New York Times  headline bluntly states the reaction of the upper class: “How the Audience Took It: Many Disgusted by the Dance and the Kissing of the Head.”

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Byron and Company. Beggar among the crowd on Surf Avenue, Coney Island, ca 1896. Museum of the City of New York.

As the first wave of British and French colonialism came to an end,  the tawdry cultural stereotypes of the Middle East lost popularity in the sideshow  circuit.  Although the Hootchy Cootchy show faded from view as if an apparition, American culture remains deeply entranced by the melody. The next time you hear the infamous tune, peer through the “hole in the wall” to old New York and, if possible, allow yourself to be seduced by Little Egypt.

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