Romanian Senator fined for xenophobic comments made about Syrian-born emergency chief

Senatorul independent Diana Șoșoacă participă la ședinţa solemnă comună a Senatului şi Camerei Deputaţilor, dedicată aniversării a 30 de ani de la adoptarea Constituţiei, in Bucuresti, 6 decembrie 2021. Inquam Photos / George Calin

Romania’s anti-discrimination board has fined Senator Diana Sosoaca 5,000 lei, (about 1,000 euros) for xenophobic comments she made about the emergency chief.

The board of the Anti-Discrimination Council met on Wednesday to discuss remarks made by the senator about Syrian-born Raed Arafat, a Romanian intensive care physician of Palestinian origin.

Dr  Arafat is the head of the Department for Emergency Situations and is at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic. He is one of the most well-known figures in Romania.

Ms Sosoaca, who was elected to parliament in 2020, is known for her anti-vaccine views, populist rhetoric and publicity stunts.

She regularly makes disparaging comments about Dr, Arafat whom she calls a ‘traitor.’

It was unclear whether the penalty was for one particular instance, or for a series of similar remarks.

The board said she was being fined for saying: ”Why doesn’t Mr Raed Arafat go back home?… He speaks about himself in the third person, probably that’s something he picked up from his mother language. I have no idea how he passed the exam to become a Romanian citizen. Traitors have no place in Romania.”

Board members voted 8-1 to fine the senator.

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