French lawmaker denounces Roma raids as disgraceful
A lawmaker from France's ruling UMP party denounced Saturday the government's raids on camps of illegal Roma immigrants as disgraceful, likening them to WWII roundups.
Following the latest raid on Saturday in an eastern Paris suburb, Jean-Pierre Grand said the government's policy of dismantling illegal Roma camps "is turning disgraceful".
The lawmaker from the southern Herault region said he couldn't help but react after learning "that the authorities, arriving very early in the morning, break up families, sending men to one side and women and children on the other, and threatening to separate mothers and children."
Police removed Saturday 70 Roma, including around 20 children, who had been occupying a building in Montreuil for two days. Sixteen were briefly arrested and then ordered to leave French territory.
Some of the Roma children gathered in the local police station along with their mothers to chant "free our fathers!"
Calling for the resignation of the official responsible for the raid, Grand condemned "... these methods which resemble wartime roundups."
France's interior minister Brice Hortefeux said Thursday more than 40 Roma camps had already been dismantled, a week after the government began its plans to get rid of 300 illegal camps and expel illegal immigrants.
The move is part of a broader "war on crime" announced by President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose opponents have accused him of stirring up racial sensitivities and security fears to bolster his flagging popularity.
© 2010 AFP