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The Anti-Discrimination Office of the Netherlands is investigating the story of a Romanian man who went viral around the country after his hotel booking was canceled for the simple fact he was Romanian.
Dr. Alexandru Hegyi is a Romanian scientist and heritage specialist who travels the world for research. Before flying from Japan to the Netherlands to visit a friend, he made a reservation for a hotel in Tilburg using the popular service booking.com. His reservation was confirmed but shortly after that, he received a message from the hotel staff informing him their hotel is no longer accepting Romanian people.
They defend their decision stating they were fined 25,000 euros for having Romanian sex workers on the premises. However, their excuse was not confirmed by the Townhall of Tilburg. The institution stated a 5000 euros fine was possible in case of repeated incidents. The hotel also said they had approval from booking.com to choose their customers, however, the booking platform quickly dismissed such claims and announced they suspended every collaboration with the hotel.
A member of the City Council of Tilburg reached out to the young scientist and promised to investigate the problem further. In his later messages, he stated the problem was much bigger and that he reported the incident to the Anti-Discrimination Office and the Board of Mayors.
Following the publicity of his case, the anti-discrimination authority in the Netherlands offered two potential solutions regarding the hotel, either mediation or settling the case in court. According to Alexandru, he does not seek compensation from the hotel and has opted for mediation, provided that the hotel meets certain conditions. Specifically, he requires the hotel to issue a public statement apologizing for their deliberate discrimination against Romanian citizens and to commit to preventing similar incidents in the future. If the hotel declines to meet these terms, Alexandru may consider pursuing legal action to settle the matter.
Unfortunately, the storm in the media has also brought negative attention to the scientist who said on his Facebook that despite the many messages of support, he has also been attacked, cursed at, and threatened by various individuals.
Other Romanians living or traveling in the Netherlands have told their stories of discrimination in the comments of his posts. A man that has been living and working there for five years said he experiences daily abuse at work from his Dutch coworkers.
A woman also stated:
“In 2006, my son was arrested, handcuffed, and interrogated at Schiphol airport on the suspicion of using a fake British passport to enter the Netherlands as a Romanian citizen. In reality, he was a legitimate British citizen since 2001, but the border police didn’t believe him. While researching the issue online, I found many accounts of discrimination against Romanians and other Eastern Europeans in the Netherlands. It seems this mistreatment is not an isolated incident, and unfortunately, discrimination against Romanians is considered commonplace in the Netherlands. You are not alone in experiencing this injustice.”