Harsh Treatment Of Roma In France Draws Scrutiny
In response to Mr Valls’ comments, the European Commission threatened to punish France over its Roma policy if it blocked their “freedom of movement” within the EU. “Freedom of movement, just like the right to reside in another country are fundamental rights,” said EC spokesman Olivier Bailly. “If these principles inscribed in the Treaties are not respected, the Commission will use all the powers at its disposal” to sanction violations, he said. The Commission, he added, deplored “voluntary or involuntary” confusion over EU rules in France. “The fact that Bulgaria and Romania are not members of Schengen in no way impedes their citizens from movement within the EU in the name of fundamental freedoms,” he said. The two countries can only join the visa-free Schengen zone if all member states agree but several countries, including France, oppose their entry. Under right of residence rules, all EU citizens can move in another country for three months, after which they must prove they are not an “unreasonable burden on the social assistance system” of a member state. Starting next January 1, all restrictions imposed by France and seven other countries on Romanian and Bulgarian workers are due to be lifted. Despite the uproar caused by his comments, Mr Valls said he would take none of them back. “To quote Michel Rocard (a former Socialist prime minister), ‘France’s role is not to welcome all the world’s misery’,” he said. But with criminality linked to Roma on the rise, up 524 per cent in Paris between 2008 to 2011, other Left-wingers backed his comments. Anne Hidalgo, Paris’ Socialist mayoral candidate, warned this week that the capital “cannot become a giant Roma camp” while the current mayor Bertrand Delanoe defended the dismantling of 18 camps around the capital this year saying: “I will not accept disorder on the public streets.” The Right-wing opposition wants to block lifting all worker restrictions on Romanians and Bulgarians in the EU – slated for January next year until the Roma problem is resolved.
France steadies NASCAR during credibility crisis
Facing discrimination and bleak prospects in Romania, many head west to France and other richer European countries. There are an estimated 20,000 Roma in France, a population that has remained stable over several years despite repeated attempts by both Socialist and conservative governments to persuade them – sometimes forcibly – to return home. Many French blame the Roma for a rise in petty crime and an influx of street beggars, especially in tourist areas of Paris, where crime rings involving children have been broken up, and where subway announcements warn every few minutes against pickpockets. In Sweden, police this week acknowledged compiling a secret, illegal registry of more than 4,000 Roma, including children, coming under criticism from politicians who said it was unconstitutional to register people by ethnicity. French Interior Minister Manuel Valls provoked anger Tuesday for saying the Roma migrants had a “duty to return to their homeland” – and despite a wave of criticism, refused to back down Wednesday. Valls said the Roma had failed to integrate and that France had no responsibility to them. “We don’t have the obligation to welcome these populations, we need to say it clearly and calmly. It is not about stigmatizing a population, but facing the truth,” he said. John Dalhuisen, Amnesty’s Europe and Central Asia program director, offered a different interpretation. “The Roma have a duty to live in misery. That’s how the comments of the interior minister should be translated,” Dalhuisen said. The EU justice chief, Viviane Reding, shot back Wednesday at the French government, accusing it of holding Romania and Bulgaria hostage to domestic French politics. Immigration is a sensitive issue amid campaigning for upcoming municipal elections across France. Reding accused the French government of using tensions over the Roma to distract voters from more serious economic problems.
Roma should ‘go home’, says France’s interior minister
I don’t think there is another motorsports organization in the world that has all of the disciplines that NASCAR has, and a lot of them started before Brian took over the role from Bill, they were things he was working on before his current role.” Although racing is his business, France is a sports fan at his core. “I’m the biggest sports fan in the company,” he boasts, and claimed it wouldn’t be unusual to find him at a high school football game, professional tennis match or college basketball game. He cites Duke basketball as his favorite team, “I admire their coach immensely,” and has often been linked to so far unfounded rumors of interest in purchasing an NFL franchise. But it’s that passion for sports that can be found all over his decade as chairman of NASCAR. France doesn’t look at his sport as an auto racing series when he makes strategic decisions, instead he considers the big four professional leagues. It’s how NASCAR ended up with the Chase format in 2004. France saw it as way to add excitement when NASCAR goes head-to-head with the NFL, and he’s tinkered with the format since its debut, expanding the field, adding wild card berths and bonus points for “regular season” wins, in an effort to create what he calls “Game 7 moments.” For France, it’s part of the evolution of keeping NASCAR relevant in relation to the NFL and other sports, particularly as NASCAR’s televisions ratings and attendance have slid since the 2008 economic collapse. “We’ve always been trying to get television dollars or exposure or sponsor participation, stuff that you only get by having the size audience that will put you in line with the other professional sports leagues,” he said. “The nuances of what we do is very different than any sport. We’ve also taken an unabashed view to creating the closest competition that we can. We’re competing for the casual fan. It may not be the biggest motorsports fan, but they certainly appreciate big moments in sports. We have to compete with other sports, so that’s natural for us to want to emulate some of the things to set up big moments to attract some of the casual fans.” But both the Chase itself and France’s push to move NASCAR away from some of its traditional regional tracks and into larger urban markets has irritated its longtime fan base.