Gypsy festival aims to inform

A knife-sharpening demonstration at gypsy culture festival in Zurich Keystone

A small group of gypsies from across Switzerland and Europe has set up camp in the centre of Zurich as part of Gypsy Culture Week.

This content was published on July 13, 2000 - 14:58

The festival is aimed at educating local residents about the gypsy lifestyle and laying to rest many of the misconceptions about it.

A large tent takes up the centre of the campsite, at the Schutzen Areal in the Zurich West redevelopment district. Inside there's an old gypsy wagon and a collection of photographs chronicling gypsy life in Switzerland over the past 150 years.

"People can also watch knife-sharpening demonstrations, go to a fortune-teller and speak with gypsies from all over Europe as well as listen to many kinds of gypsy music," said Sergai Benborin, one of community leaders.

Gypsies across Europe have often had a bad reputation among their more settled neighbours.

"Today the gypsies have fewer problems than in the past. However, the fate of the gypsies was the same as that of the Jewish people during the Second World War. We were also killed by the Nazis," said Benborin.

But however different the problems of modern day gypsies may be, they still exist.

"The problem today is not physical attacks on us but attacks on our culture," added Benborin.

During the festival, school groups from the city have been invited into this close knit community to find out more about gypsy life and culture.

Gypsy Culture Week will be touring Switzerland during the summer, and is in Zurich until July 25.

by Tom O'Brien

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