The statement from the interior minister of France Manuel Valls gave new life to the tense relationship of France with the Roma community. Mr Valls said on France Inter radio [fr] on September 24 :
ces populations ont des modes de vie extrêmement différents des nôtres et qui sont évidemment en confrontation [avec les populations locales]”.
This community has a way of life that is very different from ours and their way is clearly at odds with the way of life of their neighbors.
The statement got plenty of reactions from the francophone community on twitter, some with a hint of sarcasm :
C'est les roms qui sont la cause de tous nos malheurs, c'est à cause d'eux qu'il y a plus de 25 % de chômage chez les jeunes en Europe.
— Michel Rueher (@Michel0669) September 25, 2013
Roma people are the reasons for all of our misfortunes. It's because of them that more than 25% of youngsters in Europe are unemployed.
Les #roms, ces familles entre le marteau et l'enclume d'une #Europe désargentée qui les rejette et de systèmes mafieux qui s'en enrichissent
— Julien Valette (@Julien_Valette) September 25, 2013
These families are caught between a rock and hard place: a declining Europe that rejects them and the mob that is getting richer
On a subject that was already quite sensitive for Human rights in France, the Minister's statement got him a warning from the Council of Europe:
Ce débat perpétue une tendance inquiétante vers une rhétorique anti-roms discriminatoire et incendiaire, et risque de prendre un virage dangereux avec les prochaines élections municipales et européennes.”
This debate is taking a worrisome path towards a narrative hostile and discriminatory towards the Roma community. It might also take a turn for the worse during the next European parliamentary and municipal elections.
Just a quick comment: the country tags for this article – France and Romania – are misleading and reinforce, once again, the misperception that prevails across Western EU countries according to which all Roma come from Romania. Roma in Europe live in many other countries (like Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovenia etc.) and I’m sure not all Roma who live in France are Romanian Roma, though I imagine quite a large percentage are. This is not a France vs. Romania problem, and framing the conversation in these terms makes me think we’re not really looking for creative, constructive discussions on the matter.
Hello Iulia, Thank you for your comment. The reason why Romania was tagged in this article is because French Minister Valls specifically named Romania in his speech. We are as distraught as you are by the rhethoric and the tone used in this debate by some authorities. A more discerning approach to this debate is sorely needed. We thank you for bringing just that to the topic.