Meet the Roma

PUBLISHED : Monday, 25 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 25 April, 2011, 12:00am

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If you read romance, fantasy or horror stories, chances are you've heard about Gypsies. In fiction, they are portrayed as fiery nomads, often criminals, who have magical powers to curse people. Their ability with horses is legendary.

In real life, Gypsies prefer to be called Romany. They are an ethnic group of people also known as Travellers, who mostly live in Europe. Few of them have fixed homes, preferring instead to live in caravans, or they are cramped into slums or tenements where they struggle to earn a living.

Their origins are largely unknown but it seems they came from somewhere in India and slowly travelled westwards.

As a people they have been widely discriminated against. During the second world war the Nazis murdered hundreds of thousands of them, if not more than a million. Like Jews, they were sent to concentration camps, and in some places they were killed on sight.