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A Romanian’s view on Channel 4s ‘The Romanians are Coming’

Channel 4’s “The Romanians Are Coming” is a documentary series that “seeks out the truth behind the headlines about immigration” – or so it says on their website. What a load of crap. All it does is feed them, insinuating that the “wave” of Eastern European immigrants has indeed flooded Britain since January 2014. I am one of them; one of many Romanian students who have come to the UK surfing this alleged wave.  Am I out of line by saying I have been deeply offended by this programme? No, I am not.

“The Romanians Are Coming” is misrepresenting an entire community, suggesting that most of us are uncultured and unintegrated into British society: desperate people seeking “shit” jobs, sleeping rough, or sly opportunists claiming benefits. It is denigrating. The subjects are being looked down upon and caricatured as Lesser Humans, their stories presented as tragic and pity-instilling. No wonder it is referred to as being a “spurious and Schadenfreudian pseudo-documentary” by the (British) producers of “Wild Carpathia” (a documentary series centred around the environmental issues facing the Carpathian Mountains in Romania). This is but one of the outraged responses the “pseudo-documentary” has evoked.

The Romanian ambassador to Britain, Dr Ion Jinga, has issued a letter addressed to the executive producer of said programme, expressing his disappointment regarding the distorted, discriminating perspective it offers by only depicting isolated, negative aspects of the community. In their reply, the producers claimed that the documentary aims to reflect “the experience of Romanians from a variety of backgrounds”, their contributors being “portrayed with humanity and dignity”. I have yet to see that! The trailer, the episode summaries – they strip us of any dignity! A man rides a horse on uneven ground, mounds of garbage in the background. One sleeps in a car park, another under a bridge. Many of them can’t speak English. Romania is presented as a dilapidated, third world country. Where do they mention the 4000 Romanian doctors working in the UK? What about the students, IT specialists, social workers, lawyers, businessmen? I am so outraged, I can hardly put it into words.

Channel 4 has been urged to cancel another programme, “Immigration Street”, which focuses on an area in Southampton where only 17% of the residents described themselves as being White British. These shows should aim to objectively present cultural diversity in Britain and dispel the prejudices immigrants still face. Instead, they do the exact opposite, by being outright xenophobic and racist. I would like to believe that the majority of British people do not share Nigel Farage’s attitude toward immigrants. We are not “coming” to steal anyone’s jobs. We are all humans, stemming from different backgrounds, coexisting with UK nationals, enriching Britain’s culture. It is high time the media stopped portraying us as something we are not.

Andreea Luca

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