The Roma deportation – evicting the homeless
The forcible eviction of Roma and their deportation to Romania and Bulgaria by France has quite rightly invited criticism from across Europe and also within President Sarkozy’s own party. The French President is trying to portray the operation against the Roma as one against crime, illegal immigration, begging, prostitution and unauthorised occupation of French towns and against traffickers and delinquents against whom a war has to be waged to cleanse French society. While there may have been stay cases of petty thefts or minor offences by the Roma, the French government is reacting as though they were planning to rob the Central Bank of France. It is apparent that the French President who is a master in the game of diverting public opinion is only trying his old trick at a time when his approval rating is at an all time low of 25%, his government is dogged by huge spending scandals and his Labour Minister is embroiled in the inheritance controversy surrounding L’Oreal the cosmetic giant.
Sarkozy has an uncanny knack for diverting public attention from major issues by side tracking them with populist measures, he has in the past used ploys such as anti crime crusade, playing on their passions against the presence of a disproportionately large immigrant population in French towns etc to keep them distracted from more major issues. But this time around his crusade against the Roma who had over the time become scapegoats for whatever went wrong seems to be falling flat with a population which seems to have had its share of duplicity. What is strange is that the French President had the audacity to believe that he could divert public attention from major issues by taking on a quixotic war against hapless nomadic settlers.
Besides being unethical and unfair Sarkozy’s deportation is illegal and a plain violation of EU laws which guarantee free movement of people of member countries, In fact his diktat is also a violation of French laws which lay that deportation is allowed only after an immigrant does not secure employment 3 months after immigration and only after a proper scrutiny of his papers, steps that were not adhered to in these mass expulsions, the deportations also break the EU law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race and ethnicity.
The Roma deportation has invited criticism from different quarters like France’s League of Human Rights, the EU and even the UN but the German Member Of Parliament Martin Schulz remarks that the nation which gave the world the endearing values of equality, fraternity and liberty has taken a regrettable path sums up the situation most aptly.