01.10.2013 - FRANCE

French government turns Rroma into election fodder

Police officers watch over the evacuation of a camp near Lyon in August / Reuters

Unfortunately, the French government is doing exactly what others have done before it: trying to fish for votes in traditional camps which have been, and continue to be, the domain of the extreme right; or, in less tolerant groups that have turned their nationalist conviction into the superior belief to which all ideologies must yield.

Telling the French that members of minorities endanger the “superior” identity of French culture is like an alarm bell for Le Pen’s supporters and those who believe that “grandeur” depends on the separation, or expulsion, of all those who could be a contamination risk. The French Interior Minister, son of Spanish parents, has said that the integration of Roma in France is extremely difficult “because their way of life is very different to ours and it is at odds with our own culture.”

Some believed that with Françoise Hollande as President things would change, but now we can see this has not been the case. While Sarkozy rubs his hands with glee, in the first six months of this year, the French government has already deported more than 10,000 Roma; women, children and the elderly. Amnesty International representatives state that this is a record figure: a figure that was not even exceeded by the reviled Sarkozy.

But Manuel Valls is an unstoppable force. And he must be enjoying himself, as he is already the most popular minister in France. In this day and age, the usual racists must feel very comforted when a French  minister associates the Roma minority with delinquency and begging. Intolerable, even for some of his fellow ministers. The Industry Minister, Arnaud Montebourg, considered Valls’ statements to be “excessive” and that they should be “corrected”. But the Interior Minister replied to his fellow cabinet member that “there is nothing to correct” and that his statements “only bother those who aren’t familiar with the issue.” The same as what some people writing in newspapers or speaking on the radio say in Spain.

After this, he had to look in his party’s electoral file to check that some thousands more votes had appeared, the same ones lost by Le Pen’s National Front, the true and genuine leader of racism in Europe since the end of the Second World War.

Today, we suffer for our Romanian and Bulgarian brothers and we despair when we see that there is no solution to what we, Romanians and Bulgarians suffer together. We have won the battle against the politicians of Sarkozy’s conservative Right because we got everyone to turn against them, criticising the deportations. The Church, the International Institutions, the European Commission, the European Parliament and the world of culture joined with us and it went no further. Then Mr Sarkozy lost the elections. It could not be any other way when those who were voting were the heirs of the 1789 revolution, which enabled the establishment of The Rights of Man and of the Citizen in the civilised world.

But now Françoise Hollande is disappointing us. We believed that with him, things would change. He promised it during his election campaign, unequivocally demonstrating bravery and consistency with the principles that his party supposedly should defend. But he has had the misfortune to cross paths with Manuel Valls who, following in the footsteps of Sarkozy, who was Interior Minister before he was President of the government, surely will want to follow the same political career and oust Holland from the Elysée Palace to get himself the job.

Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Justice, has declared it with absolute clarity:“There exist European rules, signed by France, for free circulation of European citizens. And they are not gypsies, they are individuals. Only a judicial decision can allow their evacuation, if they have done something that goes against the laws of the State.”

Sarkozy lost the elections and Hollande will lose them too if he does not rectify this. Unless we have all gone mad and we mean to live in a savage world where the rule of law disappears, where laws are not respected, governed by the force of mass demonstrations and where court sentences that are not to our liking are not fulfilled. And unfortunately, when these things happen, when the force of the masses is imposed against the fragility of laws, those who end up losing are always the same: the poorest, the weakest, the least able to defend themselves.


Juan de Dios Ramírez-Heredia


President, Spanish Romaní Unión




This English translation has been possible thanks to PerMondo: Free translation of website and documents for non-profit organisations. A project managed by Mondo Agit. Translator: Imogen Folland