Blond Maria is not ‘white’ after all!
It was the irony of coincidence. When the picture of the “angelic” blond, blue-eyed girl in a shabby grey track suit with her fingers blackened from mud was splashed across the front pages of the European press a few days ago, most of us jumped to the same conclusion: the girl who was found after a police raid in a Roma camp in central Greece could not have been anything else but a European white child who had fallen victim to a gang of dark-skinned, criminal Gypsies. Indeed, the picture of a dark-skinned Roma couple released later by the Greek police as prime suspects in the alleged child abduction case gave press and TV reporters all over Europe enough material to keep the story on the agenda for days and spiced with enough racial innuendoes against the “habitual” criminal behavior of Roma communities.
The Roma couple from Greece to whose large family the young Maria was added last year, under “suspicious circumstances,” have by now been formally charged with the abduction of a child and have been placed in one of Greece’s prisons pending trial.
However, a European audience ready for a quick and racially prejudiced conclusion has already tried and convicted Christos Salis and Eleftheria Dimopoulou for stealing the child from some Western European family of the likes who visit Greece as tourists. The legal axiom that one is presumed innocent until proven guilty was once again forgotten in our populist media environment. After all, most of us think that the Roma are more likely to be guilty of theft, narcotics and human trafficking or the stealing or exploitation of children than racially pure white Europeans. But the case of Maria is turning out to be different.
Soon after the raid by Greek police on the Roma camp in Farsala, after the publication of Maria’s picture and the arrest of the Roma couple and after the Western media ran the story as “blond, blue-eyed Western angel stolen by dark Roma devils,” an unexpected twist turned the whole issue upside down.
As it turned out, Maria was not Swedish, Norwegian, Polish or British. Due to a genetic absurdity which doctors call “albino syndrome,” the girl, together with several of her brothers and sisters, was born blond to another dark-skinned Roma couple, living in extreme poverty in a settlement in Bulgaria near the Greek border. DNA tests by Bulgarian authorities confirmed the identity of her biological parents, Sasha Ruseva and Atanas Rusev, who live in a dilapidated partially roofed shack without water, heating, clothes or food, with eight more children of theirs, some of them blond. Maria’s mother wants her daughter back and claims that she gave the child away to a Greek Roma couple four years ago after she gave birth to her in a Greek hospital. She was working with her husband in Greece “picking oranges,” but she had to give the baby away “for safekeeping” because she had no money to take her back to Bulgaria.
But the story took yet another even more interesting twist when, according to claims by a local lawyer, the blond Maria was left in Greece to be sold to a local Greek businessman who changed his mind when he found out that the girl had a slight eye problem. Sold by whom? By the biological mother, by the Greek Roma couple who claim that they looked after the child like their own? Is it a case of child-trafficking by members of the Roma community, of illegal adoption gone wrong or of corrupt social services?
I cannot but think that Maria’s story would not have been blown up so much if Maria was simply not blond. And the reason why I called it an ironic coincidence is that the story broke just weeks after the raids on the racist party of Golden Dawn in Greece. With the leaders of the party now in jail, the remaining elected representatives were uncharacteristically muted over a story for which they would have had a lot to say about the purity of the white race, only to be silenced by science.
The Greek authorities say the couple was in possession of false papers, which suggested the woman had given birth to six children within a 10-month period.
When questioned about how they came to have Maria, the couple made “constantly changing claims,” Thessalia Province Police Director Vassilis Halatsis said.
Through Interpol, Greece has requested assistance from other European countries.