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Sweden orders textbook on Roma discrimination

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A Romani language class in Malmö. Photo: Drago Prvulovic/TT
11:29 CEST+02:00
The Swedish government has asked a new commission to create school materials based on a white paper documenting Swedish discrimination of Roma.

In March the government published a white paper detailing what Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag called "an unknown and dark part of Swedish history". The document revealed historic treatment of Roma in Sweden, detailing systemic abuse and police opinions that it would be best to kill them off.

The government also created a Commission Against Anti-Romanyism, aimed at "bridging the trust gap between the Roma groups and the rest of society".

On Thursday the government announced it had asked the commission to create school and teaching materials from the white book, to be used in all of Sweden's secondary schools.

"If we are going to fight the alienation of Roma that we see today, we must be aware of this dark history of abuse," Ullenhag told newspaper Dagens Nyheter.

The Swedish National Agency for Education, the Living History Forum, and the Roma discrimination ombudsman will collaborate to produce the school materials.

Ullenhag said that Swedish students should already be learning about the history of Romani people in Sweden, but that the quality of available materials and information had been poor.

"Some of this information we didn't even know about until the white book was released," he remarked.

Last November police in southern Sweden got into hot water for keeping a registry of thousands of Roma Swedes - the majority of whom had no history of crime.

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Ullenhag said that the revelation had severely damaged relationships between the Roma minority of Sweden and the state. But he hoped that the discourse evolving from the drama would help combat discrimination.

"Many agencies have already begun working with this issue," the minister said. "But we have a lot of work to do."

Dialects of Romani have been spoken in Sweden for 500 years, and it counts as one of the five official minority languages of Sweden. Scando-Romani has even given Swedish some of its modern words, including tjej, a common word meaning "girl".

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