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France: Church defends Roma, Gitanes from repressive new laws

GYpsy caravans

GYpsy caravans

President Nicolas Sarkozy’s new laws toward the Gitanes and Roma (French Gypsy and Traveller) peoples have been criticized by the French Catholic Church.

In the document the Bishops say they deplore the way the Roma and Gitane people are being scapegoated by society. New legislation being introduced by Sarkozy is stirring up prejudice, they said.

Some French bishops have now lent their support to an appeal from the “Association Nationale des Gens du Voyage Catholiques' which asks Sarkozy to “renounce making flamboyant announcements and to find instead concerted political and determined political responses” to the plight of the Travelling communities.

After a number of violent community clashes in France, especially in the village of Saint-Aignan, the minister of the interior Brice Hortefeux announced yesterday that half of the 300 nomadic camps would be evacuated within three months.

Sarkozy has been criticised for not distinguishing between the different itinerant communities, or understanding their different problems.  The Romanian and Bulgarian Roma people are a more recent minority in France. There are 400,000 Gitanes, who are almost all French. Only a third of these are nomads.

Source: MISNA