The French Government has recently begun to repatriate Roma gypsies back to Bulgaria and Romania.
In the face of public demonstrations against the government’s ‘deportation’ policy, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has attempted to justify such radical action by arguing that 65% of the French population support the Roma returning to their native country.
Since Romania and Bulgaria became full members of the ‘euro club’ in 2004, citizens of the accession states have the right to freedom of travel throughout the E.U and the right to take up employment in member states. So why have the French taken the decision to send the Roma home in the face of fierce criticism from within France and from other E.U member states?
It looks very much that the French have committed PR suicide by adopting this policy. However, they must have had a very good reason to adopt this stance, even with the alleged support of a majority of people in the country expressing a desire to see the Roma repatriated.
In an effort to appear slightly less xenophobic, the French Government assert that Roma returning to their home nation do so voluntarily and receive payment for leaving France. This still begs the question what has driven such a controversial decision?
In the absence of any official explanation by the French Government, I will draw my own conclusions as to what lies behind their decision.
Roma are considered to have derived from nomadic tribes in medieval North West India, leaving their homeland and migrating northwards due to the advance of Islam. They are spread throughout many countries in the world. Roma are found in Europe, particularly in Eastern Europe, Ukraine, Russia, North and South America, North Africa and in the Middle East.
Roma have faced persecution throughout their history. The Nazis are considered to have murdered half a million in their death camps. The history of persecution dates back hundreds of years.
Historically, there has been a deep distrust of the Roma amongst the settled communities, who consider them to be responsible for dishonesty and thievery. Whatever the rights and wrongs of how the Roma people are stereotyped, there is no doubt that their sudden appearance and encampment in an area has a highly disturbing impact, upon the communities living where they have decided to reside.
The influx of Eastern European migrants into the big economies of Western Europe has caused resentment amongst the communities, where they have settled in large numbers. Competing with the indigenous workforce for jobs, housing and services, migrant workers have not proved particularly popular. However, where migrants have assimilated in less large communities, they are far less noticeable.
The arrival of large numbers of Roma is a different matter. Despite the protestations of Roma organisations and the human rights brigade, wherever they congregate the crime rate in the area rises.
Roma create a nuisance, disturb and intimidate the local population. Local authorities need to expend limited resources on providing social services, healthcare, policing and clearing up after they have moved on.
The way of the Roma is based upon paying no income tax, rent or local tax. At a time when public sector budgets are under huge pressure, it is no surprise that they are an unwelcome burden wherever they appear.
Roma are just too different. Their ways bear no resemblance to how settled communities live. They are thought of as parasitic, using services and not contributing to society where they locate.
In a time of deep recession and economic chaos, arrival of large Roma communities has been a step too far, in what the French see as an uncontrollable influx of migrants from Eastern Europe into their country.
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