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 Thursday, 26 December, 2002, 15:39 GMT
Hungary tackles anti-Gypsy prejudice
Gypsy family
Hungarians are urged to get to know Gypsies

In Hungary this Christmas, a public information project has been launched to try to persuade the population to abandon their prejudices towards the country's large Gypsy, or Roma, minority.

Please look at them, get perhaps closer - try to get to know them, talk to them

Campaigner Andras Biro
It is the first programme for the Roma which targets the majority rather than the minority group.

On Hungary's main television channels and its cinemas all over Budapest, a new advertisement fills the screens.

Nursery school children scream with delight as Santa Claus appears in traditional red clothes and long white beard.

He pours out a sack of chocolates, then quietly slips away.

Outside in the yard, he removes his mask to reveal a dark-skinned face and does not say a word - but the message is clear: St Nicholas can be a Roma too.

Andras Biro is the moving spirit behind the new campaign.

"Our objective is to try to tell the Hungarian public, in respect of the Roma minority, please look at them, get perhaps closer - try to get to know them, talk to them," he says.

"And even if you see things you don't like, try to understand why it is so, what is wrong in them, and what is wrong in you."

Three-year campaign

The campaign will run for three years and will include advertisements on billboards, in the media, and special programmes for schools.

Many projects have been devised in the past to help the Roma directly - to do better in school, and get work afterwards.

But this is the first attempt to target the wider society.

See also:

21 Mar 01 | Media reports
09 Mar 01 | Media reports
23 Jul 02 | Europe
11 Oct 01 | Europe
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