September 28, 2013
Controversy surrounding Roma immigrants is heating up in France, as a new poll shows more than three-quarters of French people agreeing with a recent statement by a top Socialist minister that Roma are “different” and should leave the country.
By FRANCE 24 (text)
A new poll published on Saturday finds a whopping 77 percent of French people agreeing with a recent statement by Socialist Interior Minister Manuel Valls, who said that Roma immigrants are inherently “different” and “will have to return to Bulgaria and Romania” .
According to the survey, carried out by French polling agency BVA and commissioned by TV channel i-Télé and daily newspaper Le Parisien, only 22 percent disagree with Valls, saying “he should not stigmatise a segment of the population”.
As for the issue of how well this particular group of immigrants adapts to French society, 93 percent of those polled responded that the Roma are poorly integrated. That opinion crosses political lines, with 98 percent of right-leaning participants and 84 percent of left-leaning participants in agreement on the question.
The poll referred specifically to Valls’ September 24 statement, which said it was “illusory to think that we will solve the Roma problem through integration”, since, according to the interior minister, only a minority of Roma want to assimilate into French society.
French left voices outrage
The comments set off a storm of indignant reactions from fellow left-wing politicians.
Housing Minister Cécile Duflot, a member of the Green Party, told fellow party members in the Western city of Angers on Thursday: “It’s not acceptable to say that there are categories [of people] within a society whose background makes it impossible for them to assimilate.”
Valls' comments were also slammed by Social Affairs Minister Marisol Touraine and François Lamy, a junior minister in charge of urban centres, both of whom met with President François Hollande to express their opposition, according to daily newspaper Le Monde.
Forced evictions of Roma reached a record 10,000 in 2013, Amnesty International said in a report published this week.