Variation of the Romani flag used by Hungarian Roma
|315,583 (census 2011)|
Estimates: 450,000 to 800,000
|Regions with significant populations|
|mainly Hungarian (91–92% in 2001), Romani|
|Part of a series on|
Romani diaspora by country
Romani people in Hungary (also known as roma or Romani Hungarians; Hungarian: magyarországi romák, magyar cigányok) are Hungarian citizens of Romani descent. According to the 2011 census, they comprise 3.18% of the total population, which alone makes them the largest minority in the country, although various estimations have put the number of Romani people as high as 8% of the total population. They are sometimes referred as Hungarian Gypsies, but that is considered to be a racial slur.
The Romani people in Hungary originate from Northern India, from the northwestern Indian regions of Rajasthan and Punjab.
The linguistic evidence has indisputably shown that roots of Romani language lie in India: the language has grammatical characteristics of Indo-Aryan languages and shares with them a big part of the basic lexicon, for example, body parts or daily routines.
More exactly, Romani shares the basic lexicon with Hindi and Punjabi. It shares many phonetic features with Marwari, while its grammar is closest to Bengali.
Genetic findings in 2012 suggest the Romani originated in northwestern India and migrated as a group. According to a genetic study in 2012, the ancestors of present scheduled tribes and scheduled caste populations of northern India, traditionally referred to collectively as the Ḍoma, are the likely ancestral populations of modern European Roma.
In February 2016, during the International Roma Conference, the Indian Minister of External Affairs stated that the people of the Roma community were children of India. The conference ended with a recommendation to the Government of India to recognize the Roma community spread across 30 countries as a part of the Indian diaspora.
See also: Romani language
The date of the arrival of the first Romani groups in Hungary cannot exactly be determined. Sporadic references to persons named Cigan, Cygan or Chygan or to villages named Zygan can be found in charters from the 13th–14th centuries. However, persons bearing these names may not have been Romani, and it has not been proven that Zygan was inhabited by Romani people in the 14th century. Accordingly, these names seem to have derived from an Old Turkic word for straight hair (sÿγan), instead of referring to Romani people in Hungary.
Romani people first arrived in Hungary in the 14th and 15th centuries, an event which was probably connected to the collapse of Byzantine power in Anatolia, where they had likely been resident for several hundred years.[Note 1] Their presence in the territory of the medieval Kingdom of Hungary was first recorded in a chapter by Mircea the Old, prince of Wallachia, who held the Fogaras (Făgăraș) region in fief as vassal to the Hungarian Crown between 1390 and 1406. The charter makes mention of 17 "tent-dwelling Gypsies" (Ciganus tentoriatos) who were held by a local boyar Costea, lord of Alsó- and Felsővist and of Alsóárpás (now Viștea de Jos, Viștea de Sus and Arpașu de Jos in Romania). Next, the financial accounts of the town of Brassó (now Brașov in Romania) recorded a grant of food to "Lord Emaus the Egyptian" and his 120 followers in 1416. Since Romani people were often mentioned as either "Egyptians" or "the Pharaoh's People" in this period, Lord Emaus and his people must have been Romani.
While the Romani populations of Western and Central Europe faced severe legal persecution in the 15th and 16th century, the diets of Hungary and Transylvania did not pass any anti-Roma legislation during this period. This difference can be explained by the contemporary political and military confrontation between these polities and the growing power of the Ottoman Empire. The Roma population were utilised as soldiers, in the construction and maintenance of fortifications and as craftsmen with responsibility for the production of weapons and ammunition. After the partition of Hungary which followed the Battle of Mohács, the majority of the Roma population was concentrated in the Eastern Hungarian Kingdom. They are recorded as participating in a wide range of economic activity in urban areas, as well as trades connected with metalworking. Throughout this period there was a continued demand for Roma labour in the Eastern Hungarian Kingdom, with towns and nobles competing for Roma labour and the tax income which they generated. During the 16th and 17th centuries, the Roma also acquired a reputation as musicians, and records show that Roma musicians were highly valued by the nobility, although the overall number of Roma in all Hungarian territories remained small.
Muslim Roma settled in Baranya and the City Pécs at the Ottoman Hungary. After the Siege of Pécs when the Habsburgs took it back, Muslim Roma and other Muslims were converted to the Catholic faith in the years 1686 -1713. Interestingly, the Ghagar, a subgroup of the Doms in Egypt, have an oral history that some of them once went to Hungary.
In the mid-18th century, Empress Maria Theresa (1740–1780) and Emperor Joseph II (1780–1790) dealt with the Romani question by the contradictory methods of enlightened absolutism. Maria Theresa enacted a decree prohibiting the use of the name "Cigány" (Hungarian) or "Zigeuner" (German) ("Gypsy") and requiring the terms "new peasant" and "new Hungarian" to be used instead. She later placed restrictions on Romani marriages and ordered children to be taken away from Romani parents to be raised in "bourgeois or peasant" families. This was combined with decrees that prohibited the nomadic lifestyle that a large part of the Roma population had followed.
Joseph II prohibited use of the Romani language in 1783. The forced assimilation essentially proved successful. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the vast majority of the Romani population — who had settled hundreds of years earlier and held onto their customs and culture for a long time — assimilated, even forgetting their native language.
Following Hungarian independence in 1919, the Hungarian government carried out a series of anti-Roma policies. The Roma were prohibited by bureaucratic obstacles from practicing their traditional trades, and annual police raids on Roma communities were mandated by legislation. During World War II, 28,000 Hungarian Romani were murdered by the Nazis, who worked in conjunction with the Hungarian authorities led by Ferenc Szálasi of the Arrow Cross Party.
Following the establishment of the post-war administration, formal discrimination against the Roma was removed and conditions improved for the Roma population. However, they were still economically disadvantaged and did not benefit from the post-war land reform to the same degree as ethnic Hungarians.
During the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, several thousand Hungarian Roma took part in the uprising, estimated as around 5–8% of revolutionary forces. Among notable Romani figures of the Revolution was Dilinkó Gábor, who fought in the Battle of the Corvin Passage and later on became an artist.
The 1960s and 1970s saw a process of integration of the Roma into Hungarian society, with many Roma becoming more urbanised and leaving their traditional occupations to take industrial jobs. This formed part of a deliberate attempt to integrate the Roma into Hungarian society, by removing the economic and cultural particularities that differentiated them from the majority population. Despite this policy, the Roma still had lower incomes than non-Roma, which was believed to be connected to larger family sizes and their more rural residence pattern. Some Roma continued to participate in the non-state economy, especially music, crafts, horse-trading and commerce, their fortunes rising and falling throughout the Communist era depending on the degree of economic autonomy permitted by the regime. After the fall of Communism, Hungarian Roma suffered disproportionately from the country's economic collapse, with high unemployment rates accompanied by an increase in anti-Roma racist sentiment.
Main article: Demographics of Hungary
Current demographic changes in Hungary are characterised by an aging, falling population while the number of people of Romani origin is rising and the age composition of the Romani population is much younger than that of the overall population. Counties with the highest concentration of Romani are Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén and Szabolcs-Szatmár-Bereg (officially 45,525 and 25,612 people in 2001, respectively), but there are other regions with a traditionally high Romani population like parts of Baranya and the middle reaches of the Tisza valley.
Although they traditionally lived in the countryside, under general urbanization trends from the second half of the 20th century many of them moved into the cities. There is a sizable Romani minority living in Budapest (officially 12,273 people in 2001). The real number of Romani in Hungary is a disputed question. In the 2001 census 205,720 people called themselves Romani, but experts and Romani organisations estimate that there are between 450,000 and 1,000,000 Romani living in Hungary.
Studies from the 1990s show that the majority of Romani in Hungary grow up with Hungarian as their mother tongue. Only about 5% spoke Romani and another 5% spoke Boyash as their mother tongue, with particularly Romani rapidly declining. Boyash is a language related to Romanian and apart from loan words not related to Romani.
During World War II, about 28,000 Romani were killed by the Nazis in Hungary. Since then, the size of the Romani population has increased rapidly. Today every fifth or sixth newborn Hungarian child belongs to the Romani minority. Based on current demographic trends, a 2006 estimate by Central European Management Intelligence claims that the proportion of the Romani population will double by 2050.
|County||Romani population (2011 census)||%|
In Hungary, two Romani were elected to parliament as candidates of mainstream parties in 1990, but only one in 1994 and none in 1998. after the 2010 parliamentary election, there were four Romani representatives in the National Assembly.
Between 2004 and 2009, Viktória Mohácsi, a Hungarian politician of Romani ethnicity, was a Member of the European Parliament, one of only a small caucus of Roma MEPs (another ethnic Romani member is Lívia Járóka). She was a member of the Alliance of Free Democrats (SZDSZ), part of the European Liberal Democrat and Reform Party. In 2008, Mohácsi began to receive death threats after highlighting the case of a Roma man and child who were murdered by neo-nazis and inadequacies in the subsequent police investigation. She fled to Canada where she has since been granted political asylum.
Following the 2009 election, Lívia Járóka, a member of the Fidesz, is the only Romani representative in the European Parliament.
Hungarian Romani are represented by a number of conventional political parties and organizations, including the Roma Social Coalition (an organization consisting of 19 Romani organizations), the Independent Interest Association of Roma in Hungary (a new coalition, including the Lungo Drom, the Phralipe Independent Roma organization, and the Democratic Federation of Roma in Hungary) and others. The most recent addition is the Democratic Roma Coalition, established in December 2002 by three Romani organizations in time for the 2003 local elections.
An important legal regulation directly affecting the position of the Romani population in Hungary is Act LXXIX of 1993 on Public Education, which was amended in 1996 and 2003 to provide the national and local minority self-governing bodies with the opportunity of founding and maintaining educational institutions, and which defined the fight against segregation in schools as an objective.
See also: List of Romani people
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The Romani people are frequently referred to as "gypsies," but many of them consider this exonym a derogatory term.
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Zatímco romská lexika je bližší hindštině, marvárštině, pandžábštině atd., v gramatické sféře nacházíme mnoho shod s východoindickým jazykem, s bengálštinou.[While the Romani lexicon is closer to Hindi, Marwari, Punjabi, etc., in the grammatical sphere we find many similarities with the East Indian language, with Bengali.]