France stands firm on security crackdown despite protests

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France stood firm Sunday on its security policy and crackdown on Roma migrants, despite tens of thousands of people protesting the government's action around the country over the weekend.

Immigration Minister Eric Besson slammed the "caricatures" of the government by protesters and said France was "more protective than other European countries" of illegal immigrants.

Besson was responding to the protests that took place Saturday across France and on a smaller scale in some European capitals, in an interview with the newspaper Journal du Dimanche.

Police estimated the number of protesters across France at 77,300, while organisers of the rallies said 100,000 had turned out.

On Saturday, France's Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said he would continue his "determined action to push back all forms of crime, defend victims' rights and this without ever stigmatising any community whatsoever."

Then on Sunday Hortefeux added that the opposition Socialist Party's support for the protests proved it had "learnt nothing, remembered nothing, understood nothing about one of the major challenges in our society: fighting delinquency."

The issue of immigration will be at the top of the agenda on Monday, for a meeting called by Besson to discuss asylum and the fight against illegal immigration with ministers from European countries as well as Canada and the United States.

© 2010 AFP

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