German pubs advertise horsemeat to keep away Sinti

02 April 1998

On September 22, the German news magazine Der Spiegel reported that pub owners in the town of Stade, near Hamburg, had posted signs in their windows advertising that they sold „horsemeat sausages” in order to dissuade local Sinti from trying to be served. (The group called „Sinti” rejects the name „Roma” but accepts affinities with them). For most Roma and Sinti, the horse is a sacrosanct animal and eating horsemeat is taboo. The article featured a photograph of one pub with a poster of a horse in the window, below which large letters proclaimed that horsemeat sausages (Pferdewurst) were on offer. The signs have reportedly been in place for over ten years.

According to Der Spiegel, approximately three hundred Sinti live in Stade, a town of forty-four thousand inhabitants, most of them in row-houses on the edge of town in a settlement called „Bullenhof”. There is reportedly no serious problem with right-wing violence or radicai racist groups in Stade, but a social worker named Heiga Hansen, who worked in Bullenhof for thirteen years, explained that there was deep local antipathy against the „Gypsies” (Zigeuner): „The Sinti are at the bottom of the hierarchy of unacceptable people. All foreigners are better than German Sinti.”

A regional official told Der Spiegel that he did not know if horsemeat sausages were actually served in the local pubs, but he had „heard that the signs were put up against the Gypsies”. One pub owner explained that he was very satisfied with the effects of the signs: „We have high quality guests here and if ‘they’ came here I might lose my other customers.”

In similar developments, on January 15, Roma National Congress reported that the Central Council of Sinti and Roma had sent in complaints to the German Press Committee in Bonn against 47 newspaper articles which, during the past twelve months, had specifically named the culprits of reported crimes as Sinti, Roma, Gypsies, or other terms used to describe the ethnic group.

(Der Spiegel, Roma National Congress)

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