Our VoiceImmigration

Cross-Post: The Roma in France

Imagine 2050 Staff • Aug 22, 2010

Originally Published in The Irish Times:

ONE MEMBER of his own UMP party has compared President Sarkozy’s crackdown on illegal Roma camps to “rafles”, the roundups of Jews in Nazi-occupied France. Romania’s Foreign Minister Teodor Baconschi has cautioned against stigmatising an entire ethnic group and fomenting xenophobia, while a spokesman for the European Commission has warned that group expulsions may well be illegal.

Following July riots sparked by the deaths of itinerant youths, Mr Sarkozy ordered the dismantling of 300 illegal Traveller and Roma camps as part of a broader campaign against crime. But the move has all the hallmarks of electoral grandstanding in the face of plummeting ratings. To date 51 camps have been dismantled, and Thursday saw the first charter flights taking 79 Roma back to Romania on a voluntary repatriation scheme. Some 700 of France’s estimated 15,000 Roma are to be expelled by the end of the month.

The row brings to mind the Dublin 2007 deportations of 100 gypsies whose grim camp beside the M50 appalled everyone from rights groups to road safety campaigners. Threatened with compulsory exclusion they eventually took up the offer of a free flight home when it became clear staying was not an option.

Continue reading at www.irishtimes.com.

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