THE ONLY ONES WHINING ARE THE LEFTISTS AND MUSLIMS…
Amid mounting criticism, Sarkozy’s expulsion of Roma goes on
French police inspect an illegal Roma camp in Aix-en-Provence to control and check the identity of its residents on August 19, 2010.
Photograph by: Philippe Laurenson, Reuters
MONTREUIL, France — One of the most controversial initiatives in French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s populist “security” agenda continued Friday despite criticism inside and outside the country over the expulsion of members of the country’s Roma community.
The Vatican condemned France’s policy as an estimated 130 Roma were put on a one-way flight to Romania after being given money and a warning that if they didn’t leave voluntarily they’d be forced out. The government expects to send 850 packing this month.
“One cannot generalize and take an entire group of people and kick them out,” Agostino Marchetto, secretary of the Vatican’s pastoral care of migrants and itinerant people commission, told Agence France-Presse.
“The mass expulsions of Roma are against European norms.”
While French authorities have dispatched hundreds of Roma in the past, this time the effort has been accompanied by Sarkozy’s deliberate and high-profile linking of migrants — especially Muslims and Roma — to crime.
That has a particularly chilling connotation in a country where many schools have metal plaques at their entrances, citing the precise number of Jewish schoolchildren who were herded through those doors to eventually make their way to extermination camps.
One Roma man, who was chatting with neighbours wandering into and out of the Place de la Fraternite square in this Paris suburb, said his extended family has no problem with neighbours, whether they’re French or recent African and Arab immigrants.
But Sarkozy and the French police are effectively “doing to us what Hitler did to the Jews and the Roma in the Second World War,” he told Postmedia News.
Sarkozy’s security agenda, say analysts, is directly linked to his plunge in popularity to an all-time low as a result of the recession and the recent corruption scandal involving billionaire L’Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt.
In addition to the Roma initiative, his government is threatening to strip immigrants of their citizenship for various offences, is refusing to allow supervised injection sites for addicts despite success in Canada and six European countries and is considering a law to limit offshore components — presumably from China — for French manufactured goods in defiance of world trade rules.
Some analysts have argued that Sarkozy is simply reflecting hardened attitudes in France and throughout Europe towards migrant communities.
But University of Paris historian Patrick Weil, an expert on citizenship, said the security campaign represents a dramatic step away from the traditional role played by leaders in western democracies.
“Never in French history, and never in other European countries, do you have the head of state or the head of government using this kind of argument,” said Weil, author of How to be French: Nationality in the Making since 1789.
“In every country the goal is to be a unifier, and he’s using his position to divide.”
While some media reports have noted that Sarkozy’s polling numbers have improved slightly since the security initiative began, many analysts question whether he can steal a significant number of votes in the 2012 election from Jean-Marie Le Pen’s far-right National Front party, as he did in 2007.
“Some people on the right are not racist, and those who are racist think this is just speeches, and they prefer the National Front to Sarkozy,” Weil told Postmedia News.
“So, in fact, I think he’s legitimating the National Front, and it’s a very dangerous game.”
Prominent French political analyst Dominique Moisi offered a more devastating commentary earlier this week, portraying Sarkozy as a transparent opportunist who can no longer convince left- or right-wing voters of his sincerity.
“There is a rejection of his essence,” Moisi told Reuters.
“It’s no longer what he does or doesn’t do, but the perception of who he is.”