Roma 101: Five questions answered about Europe's vilified minority

Recent cases of alleged child abduction in Greece and Ireland have brought new attention to stereotypes about the Roma, as well as their ability to integrate into society.

What has been the fallout from the two recent accusations of child kidnapping?

The two children in Ireland, after DNA testing, were returned to their rightful Roma parents. The fate of "Maria" in Greece is unclear, after the Roma couple caring for her was detained and she was placed in the care of a children's rights group. Her biological mother in Bulgaria has stepped forward to say she left her child in Greece because she did not have the means to care for her.

The girl's situation underscores the hard work ahead for the EU and other groups seeking to help Roma assimilate. The World Bank calls the effort not just a matter of human rights but of smart economics. In Eastern Europe, for example, some 10 to 20 percent of the new labor market pool are young Roma. Integrating them into jobs would lift productivity and tax receipts while cutting welfare costs.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

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If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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