Manuel Valls:The Increasing anti-Roma sentiment in France
France Interior Minister Manuel Valls “The Roma should go back to Romania or Bulgaria and stay there […] I have no correction to make, my words only shock those who are ignorant of the issue.”
The French Interior Minister, Manuel Valls provoked a great debate at the beginning of this week stating that the France is not welcoming Roma population, and that majority of the Roma doesn’t want to be integrated, the main reason being Roma people way of living which is Roma “enormously different lifestyle [from the French]” : "There is no other solution than dismantling these camps progressively and deporting (the Roma)." This is not something new, the Minister statement was put into practice starting with 2007 when several Roma camps were dismantled and hundreds of Roma send back to Romania or Bulgaria, their origin country.
As a response to this, European Commission and Amnesty International reminded France of its obligations regarding the integration of Roma people, the former once again threatening sanctions against France over its policy towards the Roma community, sending a reminder to Paris that the minority were citizens of the EU and therefore free to go where they want. Besides this Commission Vice- President Viviane Reading has strongly criticized the French Minister Manuel Valls “electioneering” rhetoric: "If I am not mistaken, elections are in the air in France. Whenever in this country [the government] doesn’t want to talk about important things like the budget or debt, they talk about the Roma."
A recent report from Amnesty International "Told to move on" (which is calling for a ban on all forced evictions) shows how the French government has failed to end the vicious circle of repeated forced evictions of Roma which have now reached record numbers: more than 10,000 Roma were evicted from informal settlements during the first half of 2013.