France protests against security crackdown
Tens of thousands protested in cities across France Saturday against a government law and order crackdown that has targeted Roma gypsies, as smaller demonstrations took place in European capitals.
In Paris, leaders of leftist opposition parties, rights groups and trade unionists marched alongside Roma migrants whose camp was bulldozed by the authorities in August.
"For me, this is a day of fighting against racism and xenophobia," the socialist mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoe told AFP.
Police said the demonstration gathered 12,000 people; organisers put the figure at 50,000.
Thousands more marched in Marseille, Bordeaux, Toulouse and other cities in rallies joined by human rights groups and trade unions.
Earlier a group of celebrities from the arts world, including actress-singer Jane Birkin, staged a protest in support of undocumented migrants outside the ministry of immigration.
France's Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux however dismissed the protests, insisting the turnout was a disappointment for the organisers.
"Even though they were organised by about 60 associations, collectives, unions and political parties, today's so-called 'defence of human rights' demonstrations only managed to bring out, in total, across the whole of the territory, a few tens of thousands of people," he said.
"It is, without any doubt, a disappointment for the organisers," he continued.
"I will continue my determined action to push back all forms of crime, defend victims' rights and this without ever stigmatising any community whatsoever," he added.
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