The Roma are gypsies, we all know that. We know that many Roma cause problems, but not all.

Does this look like a gypsy family to you?

Leonarda and her family posed for a picture on the stairs to their home – Photo: BBC News

I see a relatively normal happy family, well cared for and fed.

Yet the French government see ROMA! in big red letters and that is all, they have thrown away any semblance of humanity and expelled the family from France after their application for refugee status was denied.

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Row over Kosovo Roma expulsion grips France

AFP visited Leonarda in a house in Mitrovica

France’s government is embroiled in a row over the repatriation of a Kosovo Roma schoolgirl, who was removed from her school bus.

The 15-year-old, Leonarda Dibrani, was expelled along with her parents and five siblings after they lost their battle for asylum in France.

When the order was enacted, she was on a school field trip and was removed in view of the other children.

Leonarda told French radio she was being denied education in Kosovo.

She said she wanted to return to France to finish school.

The government is conducting an inquiry into how the case was handled.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told parliament that if a mistake had been made, the family could return to France to have its situation reassessed in respect of French “laws, practices and values”.

His Interior Minister, Manuel Valls, defended the expulsion. Last month he declared Roma people incompatible with the French way of life.

Mr Valls is voted France’s favourite politician in opinion polls but he has been strongly criticised by human rights campaigners and figures within his own party for his strident comments.

Critics accuse President Francois Hollande’s administration of following the hard line on the Roma taken by his conservative predecessor as president, Nicolas Sarkozy.

The new row has deepened the rift within the ruling left on how to tackle the issue, the BBC’s Christian Fraser reports from Paris.

‘Pupils shocked’

The Dibrani family left Kosovo for France five years ago and were living in Levier, in the Doubs region of eastern France. They cited discrimination in Kosovo as grounds for asylum.

An order for their expulsion was issued after they lost their battle for asylum. After two postponements, it was rescheduled for this month and the father, who was detained in a different town, was expelled on 8 October.

A blog posted by the French news website Mediapart describes in detail what happened next.

Arriving at the family’s home on 9 October, border police found that Leonarda was on the field trip – she had stayed the night at a schoolfriend’s house in order not to miss the bus – and they contacted one of the teachers on the bus, through the school.

The indignant teacher, Mrs Giacoma, argued with the police over the phone before finally stopping the bus and getting off with Leonarda, when police took her into custody.

“My colleagues then explained the situation to some of the pupils, who thought Leonarda had stolen something or committed an offence,” she was quoted as saying by Mediapart.

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Opinion:

Come on France, there are ways and ways. The callous treatment of this family by French authorities is a blight on humanity.

The girl wants an education… criminal offence.

It’s not as though she was a gypsy living in a ramshackle encampment.

 

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