European journalists condemn French crackdown on Roma and warn of rising racism
Like the SNJ-CGT, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (FEJ) condemn the repression launched by the French authorities against members of the Roma community, warning that this encourages xenophobia and intolerance. They also accuse the police of obstructing the work of journalists, prevented from covering the raids launched yesterday against their camps.
According to the IFJ, the journalists were prevented by the police from covering their raid on a gypsy camp in the city of Saint-Etienne where we witnessed the forced eviction of an illegal camp to which the municipality had yet provided potable water and chemical toilets.
This is the first police action since President Nicolas Sarkozy announced a series of strong measures in the coming weeks, including the expulsion of Roma from 300 illegal settlements. “The government’s intolerant attitude will only result in encouraging a resurgence of racism and xenophobia,” said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. “This kind of action against people coming from other countries of the European Union is both legally questionable and irresponsible, because it fuels tensions between communities. “
For the IFJ, any complacency towards extremism and racism will only encourage xenophobic propaganda and increase the pressure on journalists and the media. “We are already told that the police in Saint-Etienne have prevented journalists from covering their raid on the camp,” White said. “It is totally unacceptable. France is not a police state and the media must be able to inform freely. If journalists and the media cannot access the truth, how will the public know if the legality is respected? “
For the IFJ, the declarations of French officials according to which it is planned to expel all undocumented Roma from France to Romania appear to constitute an obstacle to the right to free movement within the European Union. The government’s latest actions, which many critics accuse of resorting to populist and anti-immigrant policies to get out of the political mess it finds itself in, only heighten concerns about growing anti-sentiment. Roma and xenophobia across Europe.
“Policies that play on fear and uncertainty will make life difficult for many minorities, lead to discrimination and risk subjecting journalists and media to the influence of racist propaganda from unscrupulous politicians,” Aidan added. White.