Bosnian citizens Jakob Finci and Dervo Sejdic, the first a Jew and the second an ethnic Roma, are suing their country for discrimination. The two will bring Bosnia before the European Court of Human Rights on Wednesday for barring minorities from top government positions.
The Bosnian constitution allows Christian Orthodox Serbs, Muslim Bosniaks and Roman Catholic Croats to run for the positions of president or member of Parliament. Other ethnic and religious minorities are excluded from those positions.
Finci and Sejdic say the constitution violates international anti-discrimination covenants signed by Bosnia.
The court is expected to issue a ruling later this year. The court has the power to compel Bosnia to change its constitution if it finds in favor of the plaintiffs.
Wednesday’s hearing comes as Hungary’s first ethnic Roma party vies for a seat in the EU parliament. The party is not expected to win a seat.
Roma, also known as Gypsies, are an ethnic minority scattered throughout Europe. Hundreds of thousands of Roma were murdered in the Holocaust, when Roma were targeted for extermination along with Jews and other minorities. The community still faces discrimination in many European countries.
Jewish Congress Warns of ‘Ill Wind’
The European Jewish Congress expressed concern Tuesday over the use of anti-Semitic rhetoric in election campaigns throughout the European Union. Congress President Moshe Kantor said the anti-Semitic campaigns were “symptomatic of an ill wind blowing across Europe.”
“To allow for violent calls of action against any group of people under the cover of free speech is the height of hypocrisy and an act of cowardice,” he said. The EJC condemned other forms of racism in campaigns as well, including the use of ethnic Roma as scapegoats.
Kantor cited two campaigns in particular as anti-Semitic: that of Judit Szima in Hungary, and of Dieudonne in France.
Szima edits a police union newsletter titled “Prepared for Action” that recently termed anti-Semitism “the duty of every Hungarian homeland lover” and said that Hungarians “must prepare for armed battle against the Jews.” Szima, a candidate for the EU parliament in Hungary, also serves as secretary-general of the union.
Dieudonne, a French comedian, has been allowed to run in the French elections on an “anti-Zionist” platform, despite the fact that his platform is largely anti-Semitic, Kantor said.
Kantor called on candidates across Europe to support legislation against racism, anti-Semitism and other forms of discrimination and hate. European voters should “deny a platform to those extremists looking to use racism, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism to drive a wedge between Europeans,” he concluded.