An Existential Dilemma in the Land of Vlad Tepes

A heated debate is raging on in the eastern European country of Romania, a member of EU since 2007 but not of the Schengen zone. Members of the Schengen zone can travel freely without a passport between the member states. The debate has divided the population along party lines, ideology, faith, experience, education, and even families in their extended relationships.
Romania is a paradise of spectacular landscapes, mountains, valleys, rivers, gorges, the famous Danube River, the Danube Delta with its rich fauna and flora, the Black Sea, and fertile lands that could grow so much wheat and corn, it was known as the bread basket of the Balkans. Many yet to be explored natural resources are hidden beneath the soil and rocks: gold, coal, iron core, bauxite, manganese, lead, salt, silver, zinc, petroleum, and natural gas.
Temporarily forgotten are the economic problems that ail a crony capitalist system emerging from decades of communist dictatorial oppression. What is important at the moment is whether Bucharest will build the biggest mosque in Europe, in the middle of predominantly Orthodox and Catholic Christianity. It is an existential dilemma in the lands that Vlad Tepes, the infamous Dracula, and many voivodes and rulers after him, protected with guts, blood, and glory, from the constant invasions of the Ottoman Empire during five centuries.
Why would Bucharest need such a huge mosque? Who will pray there? The population is atheist, agnostic, or Christian. Dobrogea, in the eastern part of Romania, already has mosques to accommodate the Turks whose ancestors had settled in these parts of the Black Sea.
Can the country, struggling with many economic issues, afford the influx of Middle Eastern men of fighting age who are sure to come as war “refugees?” Apparently the prime minster, who allegedly received a new knee in Turkey, was quoted as saying that Romania is prepared to receive refugees and has opened two camps with a capacity of 500 each in the western part of Romania, but so far, few “refugees” have petitioned for asylum. Asked if such refugees will be distributed by areas or by counties, Ponta answered that the said “refugees” are free to go wherever they wish, with only one interdiction, they cannot vote.
“The mayor of Arad, where unemployment is zero, told me that they need workers, especially those who are easy to train. Nothing happened what ‘the crusader Basescu’ said,” Ponta concluded. Basescu, the former president, vehemently opposed the Bucharest mosque and the “refugees” being settled in Romania.
Those who survived Ceausescu’s four-decade long dictatorship are divided. Some who are too old to work and fend for themselves, are nostalgic for his tyranny because they did not have to work very hard, did not have to be responsible for themselves. As long as comrade government provided meager rations and salaries, enough to survive on, they were satisfied.
The young, representing the “tyranny of the oppressed,” have no memory of Ceausescu’s regime and thus think that socialism and communism are great ideas – who would not want to be taken care of in the fashion of the western European Fabian socialist societies whose governments are bankrupt?
These two groups do not see any problem with building the largest mosques in Bucharest – the more the merrier. The fact that the two cultures, Islamic and western, are incompatible, does not seem to faze them.
A short list highlights the alleged corruption and theft affecting society and the economy profoundly. These events took place after Ceausescu was executed on Christmas 1989 when a period of chaos ensued. How long this period lasted is debatable but the results are still felt today.
– Part of the national bank’s gold was allegedly taken out of the country.
– Factories that may or may not have been productive were sold to foreign investors or destroyed and sold for scrap metal and the money was pocketed by those in power.
– Diesel payments for ships sailing under Romanian flag were stopped, the ships were sold as scrap metal in the ports where they happened to be docked, and the money was pocketed by those governing and making such decisions.
– Even though Romania had no debt, once some industrial and agricultural production was stopped, it was necessary to make loans from foreign banks in order to keep the country afloat, thus Romania began its indebtedness to the western bankers.
– Oil, gas, and gold were given to foreign investors in exchange for substantial bribes to governing individuals.
– Laws were passed that allowed foreigners with money to invest in “agriculture” to exploit the land and to harvest timber, gold, and frack for natural gas, desertifying large tracks of land in the process, and poisoning rivers with cyanide and other toxic chemicals; the said foreign investors were not required to clean up the ecological disaster they left behind.
– As more and more taxes were imposed, the money were not put to good use, benefitting or building schools, hospitals, and orphanages; the money built thousands of churches and fattened the pockets of the governing individuals who used priests to preach to their flocks to vote in the most corrupt politicians who were skilled orators.
– The alleged sabotage of Romanian investors who found efficient and non-toxic ways to explore for gold without destroying the natural habitat.
– Out of control deforestation resulted in landslides and floods and the destruction of entire villages.
– Alleged damage to tourism at the Black Sea due to fracking for natural gas in Dobrogea.
– Creation of a class of EU-style welfare dependent citizens and parasites who watch mind-numbing telenovelas while their country is being destroyed.
– Laws that allow politicians to purchase land for prices below real estate values in beautiful areas and to build villas on that land.
– Exacerbating the decades-old divide between Hungarians, Swabians, and Romanians in Transylvania through corrupt political moves, keeping the population at odds.
– Passing laws of immunity for crimes committed by those in power who undermined the country’s economy for personal and political gain.
– Expropriating private land of those who opposed the land grab across the country.
– The irrational decision to pay Holocaust reparations of 60 billion euros to Israel (even though 95 percent of Jews were alleged to have survived in Romania when they were sent to Transnistria, away from Hitler’s grab) at a time when former soldiers, workers, teachers, and other poor Romanians living on pensions of 300 euros per month had to take substantial EU-dictated austerity cuts; 20 billion euros were already paid even though Romania had to likely borrow the money.
– The Penal Code was changed and expunged of the punishment for undermining the national economy.
– Billions of euros were allegedly funneled to finance electoral campaigns of those in power who speak so eloquently and convincingly, promising to eradicate the blatant corruption in society but deliver nothing except more wealth and power to themselves.
Despite the bleak economic reality, the useful idiot voters who applaud and reelect to power the very same corrupt politicians who have relegated them to comfortable poverty, are busy on social media, discussing passionately the pros and cons of the mosque, while the economic and societal quagmire around them continues unabated. They seem to be deaf and ambivalent to the historic song of previous generations, “Wake up, Romanians, from the sleep of death.”
Whether some of the allegations can be proven and could stand up in a court of law remains to be seen. It is a fact that the majority of the population is still relatively poor even after twenty-five years since communism “fell” while a few politicians and oligarchs have become millionaires and billionaires many times over. Crony capitalism has replaced one set of ruling elites with another. The only difference now is that the masses can idle their time with tele-entertainment on every channel and food is available. They can criticize the new regime, but nobody listens.

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