Traveling in Europe these in these days offers some food for thoughts. About who is European. And if those who are not are equal in the eyes of the law. Except for a failed attempt to smuggle in a cat into Sweden, I and my partner travelled without harrasments, scandals, or very careful checks. I could probably not have travelled with my brothers passport, but I had the feeling that no one ever really checked if this was me. Which is, of course, the point of the European Union, Schengen etc.
Not everyone was so lucky though. A gypsy woman, additionally from an unknown country whose citizens are considered potential criminals and need a visa, was interrogated in a quite humiliating way in front of well dressed and well behaving Europeans by the Hungarian border police in Budapest airport. Of course, Hungarian police is not famous for ethnic tolerance, but how comes this is not a major EU problem?
We rushed towards our gate, where the plane to Coenhage would take off from. There was no need to rush, however, because there was a major scandal, and all of us had to wait. A Swedish speaking man of middle eastern descent, was judged to sick to board the plane. Not such a nice surprise for him of course. I guess it could be seen as an isolated case of bad luck, but who does? Who is surprised that it is a dark skinned man, probably a muslim that gets in trouble? No one. In deed... maybe the reason that Western Europe turns a blind eye to the roma issue in eastern Europe, is that they don't know how to deal with their own minorities.
The poor brown guy didn't enter the plane but the Swedish guy did and that could have been the end of the story. Maybe he really was sick, and in these times of various viruses, It might be necessary to restrict sick people's right to fly. The only problem is that this scene is played up again and again. The actors are the same - policemen or other authorities from the majority population vs. "immigrants" with considerably darker skin and a different religion. In fact - who says that they are not themselves policemen? They might be anything, but in this theatre there is only one role - immigrant.
This weekend we visited some Bulgarians living in Copenhagen. I guess they would have a thing or two to say on this topic as well, but it was all very fine. We travelled there and back in bus. The thing about buses are that they are very cheap, and attract many immigrants, travelling between frinds and families in north European cities, I guess. The difference in terms of ethnicity between a Swedish train and a Swedish bus is big. And one more thing... they always get stopped and checked with narco-dogs on the border. I have travelled many times across the Scandinavian borders, and I never saw a custom control on the train, or on cars. On the bus it happens more than often.
Why is this? I think there might be a good reason behind any one of these cases, but it is anyway difficult not to see a pattern, where certain Europeans are more equal than others. You are much more likely to be checked, or end up in problems if your hair is black than if it is blond. Can Europe afford such an injustice?