I have always told people how welcomed I felt in Târgu Mureș. From the first week, I made really good friends, I felt integrated and I made this cute little town in Romania my home. But probably it only went that well because I am white, from Germany and because people don’t know I am atheist.
I come to this conclusion because the mayor of Târgu Mureș, Dorin Florea, has now proclaimed that people who are (assumed to be) a little bit different are not welcome in this town. Even if they face persecution or death.
Mr Florea calls the welcoming of refugees “hypocritical” and an “excess of generosity”. Then he claims that refugees (most of whom are from Syria) have a “different cultural level” (it doesn’t sound like he suggests they have a higher level, so you can guess what he means) and “concepts which are different from the European spirit”.
Whoa! What a stupid, xenophobic, uninformed, racist rant!
The only “different cultural level” I can see is that most Syrians and other people from the Middle East don’t make crass generalizations like that, don’t insult whole peoples and countries and probably would think twice before making incendiary comments about something that they obviously know nothing about.
I am particularly angry about this open display of racism and xenophobia, because in Târgu Mureș it would be so easy to meet Syrians, other people from the Middle East, Muslims or all the other people whom Mr Florea (and the other racists in town) are afraid of: Just go to the Medical University UMF, where hundreds of international students pay 5,000 € per year (plus the additional money they contribute to the local economy) to study medicine. A large part of the international students, maybe even the majority, come from countries or cultures that the mayor finds so “different”. I have met many of these students and the doctors that became of them and they aren’t different at all (notwithstanding the fact that all doctors are a bit scary, particularly dentists).
The students from the Middle East with their allegedly “different culture and different values” do volunteer work during their studies, they work in Romanian hospitals and help Romanian patients. And who on earth founded SMURD and coordinated the local emergency services? Oh, it was a doctor from Syria, who has contributed a thousand times more to Târgu Mureș and Romania than all the racist pricks who think that every Muslim is a terrorist. How would you like it if all Romanians were thought of as uneducated dictators? Or as corrupt politicians?
But then, what can we expect from a municipality that lets more than a thousand people live in a slum, denying them basic utilities, access to education, let alone some form of respect and dignity? And the people living in Valea Rece are not even refugees, they are Romanian citizens. Although on a recent visit there, one of the foreign UMF-trained doctors who had spent her childhood in the Middle East told me “this looks, smells and feels exactly like the refugee camp in Pakistan where I grew up”. Yeah, we sure have some great European values here that we need to protect. What a terrible thought if people from another continent were to teach us some compassion, dignity, generosity when we just want to be selfish, bigoted and narrow-minded.
I am sorry for Târgu Mureș, but we can forget about the bid for European Capital of Culture in 2021 now. Our mayor has fucked that up.
UPDATE: Maybe, just maybe, I over-estimated the friendliness of people in Târgu Mureș. But judge for yourself based on what people tell me.
Well, at least he liked my TEDx speech. That’s nice.
Oh yes, the “go back to where you came from” line, always so ironic when I write about the welcoming culture of a place.
And then there must of course also be the “Hitler would execute you” guy.
To all those who claim in the comments below that I tarnish the image of our lovely town, I think the people above do that very well themselves. No help needed from me.