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France’s Sarkozy vows ‘unbending’ crime crackdown

Published on August 31, 2010

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy vowed Tuesday to be "unbending" in his crackdown on foreign-born criminals, amid signs of divisions in his government over his deportations of Roma Gypsies.

Sarkozy “expressed his unbending will to fulfill these programmes in the weeks to come,” a presidential statement said, referring to his plan to strip French nationality from foreign-born convicts for a range of crimes.

Speaking while meeting with five policemen who were wounded by attackers on August 12, Sarkozy expressed “his absolute determination to combat delinquency and criminality,” the statement said.

In a “war on crime” announced last month, Sarkozy said he wanted to strip nationality from foreign-born French nationals who endanger the lives of public officials, and to apply a fixed 30-year jail term for killing a police officer.

Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux has said polygamy and female circumcision should be added to the list of crimes, and also last month launched Roma round-ups that have since seen hundreds flown back to Romania and Bulgaria.

But even as Sarkozy and his inner circle of ministers stepped up their anti-immigration rhetoric, splits were beginning to appear in the government over the measures.

Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Monday he had considered resigning in protest.

Fadela Amara, the minister charged with improving France’s suburbs, on Tuesday opposed the Roma expulsions and broadening the list of crimes that lead to a loss of citizenship.

Tuesday’s statement said Sarkozy “wished that the authors of violence against any person holding public authority be sanctioned with an exemplary severity.”