Domestic indignation, outside criticism beset French gov't over Roma issue

20:51, September 20, 2010      

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A protestor participates in a protest held by Bulgarian Roma and their supporters outside the French embassy in Bulgarian capital Sofia Sept. 18, 2010. The protestors sent French President Nicolas Sarkozy a letter demanding an immediate stop of the expulsion of Roma migrants in France. (Xinhua/Xie Xuemin)
This month, France was marked by a series of demonstrations and protests against the government's policy on the Roma, which also sparked international criticism, especially from the European Union (EU). President Nicolas Sarkozy proposed last week to place the expelled Roma people to Luxembourg when rebutting a Luxembourg-born EU commissioner's critical statement.

This blunt defense fueled dissatisfaction across the bloc.


Sarkozy's controversial comments were triggered by violence in Saint-Aignan in central France in July.

A gang of armed rioters attacked the police, burning cars and national flags after a young Roma suspected of theft and driving without license was shot dead during a police chase.

Two weeks later, Sarkozy announced a crackdown on crimes, which set a goal to clear half of the illegal camps of Roma, also known as gypsies, in three months.

Nearly 1,000 dwellers had been expelled since July, bringing the total number to 8,000 for this year, according to French media.

However, Sarkozy's choice to hold the Roma responsible for deteriorating security was not welcome by the public, as many blamed the policy as xenophobic. His policy was only welcomed by the extreme right.

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