Witch tax brews controversy in Romania

Rob Cameron Jan 7, 2011
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Witch tax brews controversy in Romania

Rob Cameron Jan 7, 2011
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TEXT OF INTERVIEW

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Like most of Europe, Romania faces major budget cuts and a tough economic environment. The government plans to make up some of the shortfall by bringing in higher and new kinds of taxes. The Romanian president has even proposed including the profession of witchcraft in that country’s new tax code. And that’s brewed a whole lot of controversy there. Witches from all corners of Romania have gathered to curse the government for the idea.

The BBC’s Central Europe correspondent Rob Cameron joins us. Good morning Rob.

ROB CAMERON: Good morning to you.

CHIOTAKIS: So, what exactly did the witches do to wreak vengeance on Romania’s politicians?

CAMERON: What they did was they gathered on the shore of the Danube River, and they held mandrake — which is a poisonous herb who’s roots can resemble a human being into the river — all the while uttering dark incantations. And they’re so anger because under this new law, they’ll have to pay 16 percent tax plus social security contributions on their earnings. That’s along with fortune tellers, and bizarrely driving instructors, although they weren’t at the protest.

CHIOTAKIS: Is this a universal reaction? Are all the nation’s witches reacting like this?

CAMERON: Well, not all of them, no. Some say that being completely legal tax payers gives them the recognition they’ve long deserved and so craved. Mihela Minca is one young witch who wants to pay tax.

MIHELA MINCA: From my point of view, this law adopted now is very good and I’m very happy because the Romanian government considered that our magic skills, which are recognized and accepted worldwide, are now authorized in Romania too.

CHIOTAKIS: So they have credibility in other words. Is this a big deal, I mean how popular is witchcraft in Romania Rob?

Well, this is of course the country that gave us Dracula, suddenly some older people I think out in the villages and in Transylvania do believe in the power of curses. Even the President it is said, sometimes wears purple, to ward off evil spirits.

CHIOTAKIS: The BBC’s Rob Cameron in Prague, Rob, thank you.

CAMERON: You’re very welcome.

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