Is Sarkozy Turning France Into A Police State?

Today, President Sarkozy warned that France would strip “foreign born criminals” of their French nationality if they use violence against the police or public officials. Earlier this week, Sarkozy had said that he would expel foreign Roma minorities who commit crimes in France back to Eastern Europe in his vow to tighten nationality rules for other non-French-born.

This follow recent incidents in the city of Grenoble with clashes between police and armed rioters. During what French officials called “street battles” on the weekend of July 16, rioters opened fire and torched shops and cars after the police shot dead a 27-year-old man suspected of robbery in a car chase.

In a separate clash last week, masked rioters tried to break down the door of a police station in Saint-Aignan, in the center of France, damaged building and burned cars in anger after the police shot dead a Gypsy during a car chase.

On Wednesday, French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux said that illegal Gypsy camps would be “be torn down” and that Gypsies from other EU states who break the law who be expelled from France. Sarkozy himself said that the “Roma posed security problems”. The police raids against Roma started today when the police drove out 50 Gypsies from a squat in Montreuil, a poor suburb of Paris.

The French President statement concerning the “Roma problem” has provoked swift condemnations from human rights groups. The French Human Rights League released a statement saying:“The President of the Republic has stigmatized Roma and ‘traveling people’ in a racist way, by creating an unacceptable amalgamation of a few individuals with entire communities, and announcing plans for ethnically targeted evictions of settlements.” The French Human Rights League added that these communities were “scapegoats for deficiencies of the state”.

Tensions have been running high for years between French police and people in poor suburban districts with high immigrant population and chronic double digit unemployment who struggle to integrate and find work. Today, Sarkozy explicitly linked immigration and crime.

Sarkozy’s pledge to declare a “war on crime” seems to be more a pledge to declare a war on Gypsies and on immigrants from Arab origins. It is a sad departure from France’s centuries-old tradition of welcoming foreigners, especially on human rights grounds and persecutions in their respective¬† country of origin. Sarkozy should remember that from first hand experience. On both side of his family, respectively Hungarian and Greek, his parents were the beneficiary of such generous French immigration policies.

“Nationality should be stripped from anyone of foreign origin who deliberately endangers the life of a police officer, a soldier or a gendarme, or anyone else holding public office. We are suffering the consequences of 50 years of insufficiently regulated immigration which has led to a failure of integration,” said Sarkozy in a shameless effort to cater to the electorate of French racist far-right party such as the Front National.

But this is mainly a Sarkozy version of “wag the dog”. Sarkozy’s approval rating is at a record low of 35 percent, and he is facing some major financial and political scandals. Unfortunately, just like in the United States, the blame-immigrants-for-everything rhetoric is gaining political traction in France and all across Europe. But in the case of France, the racist logic of “kick the foreigners out” and Sarkozy’s “war on crime” which is really a war on civil rights could, as proven in Grenoble two weeks ago, backfire. Ever since 1789, French people do not hesitate to take on to the streets and topple their governments.


7 Responses to Is Sarkozy Turning France Into A Police State?

  1. Helios July 31, 2010 at 1:09 am

    I don’t think it will backfire. A big majority of people are for this propositions because we are really tired by the insecurity situation.

    How can you imagine that people would agree and suport what happened at Grenoble? Someone who was making a robbery tried to kill the policemen and got shot. And his friends, who are of course all criminal started a riot and rumors are that they want to kill a policeman.

    I feel bad for people living in quarters with 80% of origins immigrants who are almost all like that. We need to clean these quarters and remove the criminality.

    • harryposter July 31, 2010 at 3:13 am

      I wonder to what country does Sarkozy want to send back the 90% of French citizen of “foreign origin” who were born in France…

    • Charmaine Morgan August 1, 2010 at 7:49 pm

      Just what do you mean by “clean these quarters”. Such a statement reminds me of the Nazis cleansing the ghettos of Jews. What a pity my father wasted years of his life and went through hell to defend the liberties you enjoy just so that you can repeat history.

      Let’s be clear. What you really mean is that you are pre-jeudice against all black/non-white immigrants who you perceive as a threat – whether they are or not. You would no doubt support the action taken by police, caught on camera last week, dragging black women and children across concrete floors to evict them.

      If someone is a criminal then using evidence based investigation act but do not allow an event to justify inhumane action against the general population and fellow human beings.

      We had the Brixton riots which, on investigation, turned out to be largely due to poor and over zealous policing resulting in ethnic minority communities feeling marginalised and lashing out against their treatment by police. Good community policing has largely tackled this, though there are still issues. Now when there is a gunfight or drugs raid the ethnic community are as likely to be supportive of police action. Most people, regardless of their cultural background, do not support violence and crime in their neighbourhood.

      In response to your comment about feeling sorry for those living in a largely nonwhite area, I spent several years living and working in Brixton, London as a white person in an area with a large non white population. I loved the rich cultural diversity of the area – the food, the music, the markets, the humour, the spirituality and the debate that the migrants brought.. I worked side by side with black and Asian people, and many were my customers. It takes time for people to adjust. It also takes effort on all sides.

  2. frankpopo July 31, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    And today, he proposed to sentence to 2 years of jail the parents of children who break the law.
    Funny when we remember the episode with his underage son who broke the law.
    And during this time, a woman dies by the hands of his husband every 36h in France (but this problem is mostly from “white” french, so for Sarkozy it isn’t really a problem).

  3. huitzil July 31, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    This is smoke to mask the political scandal : Woerth-Bettencourt.

  4. Charmaine Morgan August 1, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    Having just seen the footage of French police dragging women (including a pregnant woman who fainted) and young children across tarmac on bare skin I would say that France is turning rapidly into an intolerant fascist state.

    I have relatives living in France and noted the intolerance they showed toward immigrants. We are moving toward a frightening future if this spreads across Europe and other nations use the actions of France to justify such actions.
    This is all because politicians refused to listen to public concerns regarding the impact of immigration on resources, in their short sighted bid to support employers and encourage cheap labour. It should not be the refugees and economic migrants who are targeted but the politicans who allowed this crisis to occur.

  5. ugg boots August 4, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    I have relatives living in France and noted the intolerance they showed toward immigrants. We are moving toward a frightening future if this spreads across Europe and other nations use the actions of France to justify such actions.

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