A statue honoring late singer Saban Bajramovic, often referred to as “the king of Balkan Roma music,” was desecrated in the southern Serbian city of Nis earlier this week. “Stop to Gypsy Terror,” a graffiti on the monument pedestal on the bank of Nisava river said. The incident was duly condemned by everyone, from President Boris Tadic down. It must be noted, though, that anti-Roma incidents of this kind are becoming an almost daily occurrence in the country and that much more than mere condemnation is required to counter them.

 It is the forth time that the monument is desecrated since it was erected last August. Bajramovic died in 2008. While he is celebrated by most as one of Serbia’s greatest artists of all times, the near unanimous decision by the Nis City Council in 2009 to rename one of the streets in the city after Bajramovic was controversial as a small, but vocal minority argued against. Their reasons? Nothing to do with racism, they said. No, no, God forbid, no! They were only concerned for those unlucky citizens who live in that street and would, as a result of the name change,  be required to change their ID cards and other personal documents showing their address. So concerned they were that they continued to be concerned even after the authorities reassured them that documents won’t need to be changed. 

 

Tihomir Loza

Tihomir Loza is deputy director of Transitions Online. Email: tihomir.loza@tol.org

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