News / Europe

    French President Vows Tough Stand on Foreign-Born Citizens

    Multimedia

    Audio

    French President Nicolas Sarkozy is vowing to get tough not only on illegal immigrants, but even on the country's foreign-born citizens.  The president says it's to bolster law and order, though critics accuse him of pandering to France's right-wing electorate by appearing tough on immigrants.  Some think this is a policy trend across Europe.

    Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said last week illegal Roma immigrants, also known as Gypsies, will be expelled from the country and hundreds of their camps will be dismantled.
    He said Romas who have disturbed public order or have committed fraud will be deported to Bulgaria or to Romania.

    Hortefeux said the government was not stigmatizing Roma, but says it is a question of public safety.  There recently have been a few public order incidents involving Roma, including a riot in southeastern France.

    Mr. Sarkozy called the camps a source of illegal trafficking and prostitution.  The French government also has said it will strip naturalized citizens of their French nationality if they break the law.  The new policy would apply to people who have been French for less than 10 years and who commit serious crimes.

    Meanwhile, a video has emerged that shows French police dragging immigrant women and children from a demonstration in Paris, where they were protesting their eviction from illegal squats.  John Dalhuisen, from Britain-based Amnesty International, says it is not clear from the video that the police had acted beyond their orders.  But he says it may have symbolized a wider trend in France.

    "That reflects the fact that it seems to fit into a broader context in which an increasing number of repressive measures are being taken," said Dalhuisen.  "It has become a symbol, whether it is in fact in its own terms genuinely one or not, of a broader pattern."

    Last month, politicians in France's lower house voted to ban the Islamic burqa in public places.  It said the veil oppresses women and leads to segregation.  Dalhuisen says measures like these add up to a tendency in France to view foreigners as outsiders and a social threat.

    "The signs at this stage are not good, the intemperate language that has been used, the policy announcements that have been made," said Dalhuisen.  "All point to a situation in which the rights of foreigners, of people often, but not all by any means, in irregular situations, living very much on the margins of society, excluded from social services, excluded from the labor market, will see their situation worsen."

    Executive Director Mark Lattimer of the London-based Minority Rights Group International says anti-immigrant right-wing parties are emerging across Europe.  He says the parties are not necessarily gaining a large number of votes, but their policies are seeping into mainstream politics.

    "The far-right parties that exist in Europe at the moment on the whole, certainly in Western Europe, have very small support," said Lattimer.  "But one dangerous thing that happens is that mainstream political parties sometimes espouse some of their policies for populist motives.  They see that espousing anti-immigration rhetoric is a way of getting themselves voted into power.  Some of them rather bizarrely adopt the policies of far-right parties and justify it by saying this is a way of keeping the far right out."

    Lattimer says French President Sarkozy may have adopted a rhetoric he thinks will be attractive to right-wing voters.  France's next presidential election is in less than two years.

    "The President Nicolas Sarkozy has led a series of statements targeting immigrants, calling for a ban on certain types of Islamic dress on the streets of France and so on and so forth and they are really not justified on public-policy grounds, arguably they are contrary to the French constitution, but they are populist measures designed to get him support with a significant sector of the French population who of course are suffering in the current economic recession," said Lattimer.

    Amnesty International estimates that there are around 20,000 Roma in France.  Many are recent immigrants from Central and Eastern Europe.

    You May Like

    Escalation of Media Crackdown in Turkey Heightens Concerns

    Critics see 'a new dark age' as arrests of journalists, closures of media outlets by Erdogan government mount

    Russia Boasts of Troop Buildup on Flank, Draws Flak

    Russian military moves counter to efforts to de-escalate tensions, State Department says

    Video Iraqis Primed to March on Mosul, Foreign Minister Says

    Iraqi FM Ibrahim al-Jaafari tells VOA the campaign will meet optimistic expectations, even though US officials remain cautious

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora