Hundreds protest in France to defend illegal immigrants
Hundreds of leftist demonstrators from Europe on Saturday protested against the fate of illegal immigrants living in France's northern city of Calais, a key exit point to Britain.Calais - Hundreds of leftist demonstrators from Europe on Saturday protested against the fate of illegal immigrants living in France's northern city of Calais, a key exit point to Britain.
Screaming "Stone by stone, brick by brick, we will raze your prisons," protestors from France, Belgium, Britain, Germany and the Netherlands marched through the town flanking the Channel which separates France from Britain.
The protestors, whom police said numbered about 1,000 but organisers said totalled double that figure, held up banners flaying the right-wing government of French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
"We will dance on the ashes of your detention centres," said one. Another read: "Immigration is a boon for France, all men merit respect."
About 2,000 policemen and security officials fanned out across the town to prevent violence and a helicopter surveyed the demonstrators from the air.
Ever since a Red Cross detention centre in Sangatte was closed in November 2002 after concerns it had become a base for illegal immigration into Britain, hundreds of illegal immigrants -- mainly Afghans, Eritreans, Iraqis and Somalis -- are living precariously in Calais.
"After the (peaceful) demonstration, how can the state justify the presence of 2,000 security officials and a helicopter hovering over Calais," said Meriem, a spokeswoman for the "No Border" group fighting for the rights of illegal immigrants and their right to freely move through Europe.
"The violence comes from the state," she said.
AFP / Expatica