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France: Roma celebrity Eric Cantona offers to house asylum-seekers

29.9.2015 21:40
Eric Cantona (PHOTO:  Georges Biard, Wikimedia Commons)
Eric Cantona (PHOTO: Georges Biard, Wikimedia Commons)

Online news server TheLocal.fr reported on 10 September that famous ex-footballer Eric Cantona has criticized the French Government's approach to asylum-seekers and is ready to house them in his own home. Cantona made his remarks in an interview for the French daily Le Parisien.

Cantona, who is Manouche, ended his football career in 1997 and then became an actor. He has called on the French to receive asylum-seekers in need and offer them housing.

The celebrity believes France is alsp responsible for the current situation in Africa and the Middle East. "We create wars for economic reasons and people must then flee their own countries because we have created chaos there. We aren't even capable of taking care of them," he said.

When asked whether he would be willing to accommodate asylum-seekers in his own home, Cantona responded unequivocally:  "Of course. Certainly. It would be good if the other 65 million French people would be willing to receive them as well."

Cantona also said he will not be voting for French President François Hollande in 2017. "I voted for him in 2012 but I won't vote for anyone in 2017," famous ex-footballer said.

At the time of his announcement, opinion polls showed 53 % of the French public were inclined to receive asylum-seekers. That number was up compared to the beginning of September, when only 43 % of the French public took a positive stance on the issue.  

The growth of such pro-reception sentiment was evidently cause by the publication of the photograph of Aylan Kurdi, a Syrian boy who drowned while attempting to cross the Mediterranean. Speaking at the end of August, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius did some finger-pointing of his own, saying he considered the approach being taken on the issue by some Eastern European countries to be scandalous.  

Fabius mentioned Hungary building a fence on the border with Serbia as an example. In an interview with the Europe 1 radio station, RTL television and Le Monde, he said Budapest does not respect European values.

In the interview, Fabius said he had been shocked to hear asylum-speakers being spoken of as "products". "We must not forget that these are children, men, women with their own fears and hopes," he emphasized.

"When I see that a certain number of European countries will not accept quotas, I consider that a scandal," the French Foreign Minister said. He insisted that France was standing by Germany's courageous stance on the issue and that all of Europe should take responsibility for it.

Fabius also said he believes Budapest should remove the barriers it has erected and that the European Union needs to hold a serious debate on the issue with Hungarian representatives. The fence extends along the entire 175 kilometers of the border with Serbia and is planned to be four meters high.  

The French Foreign Minister also said he believes the current wave of immigrants into Europe will last for several years. It is being caused by the fragility of various states, by poverty and by wars, while climate change will only increase outflows in the years to come.  

French PM:  Fighting Islamism will take an entire generation

French Prime Ministery Manuel Valls said on 21 September that combating the radicalization of young people in France who admire Islamist extremism will take an entire "generation". At the same time he expressed his intention to involve all of society in the effort, saying secret service activity alone was not enough.  

Agence France-Presse reports that Valls made his remarks during a visit to Sweden where he participated in a debate on options for combating radicalization. Sweden is already taking certain steps to combat the phenomenon.  

Lectures about Islamist extremism will be organized across the board in the Swedish schools with the involvement of the broadest possible range of interested communities and religious groups. Parents are also being asked to discuss the issue with their children.  

Those efforts will be augmented through work to prevent criminal outcomes arising from people's active participation in extremism. The Muslim minority is a rather significant population group in Western European countries in particular, but the number of active radicals is negligible compared to the overall number of Muslims in Europe.  

Homeless man assaulted by animal rights activists in France - and their excuse? "He's Roma"

While Eric Cantona may have some luck generating sympathy for asylum-seekers, it seems some people in France have much less sympathy for the homeless people already in the country. News server ifreepress.com reported on 27 September that animal rights activists have been caught on film perpetrating what appears to be an assault on a homeless man there in order to confiscate his puppy.

Video footage of the incident posted online begins with a shot of the homeless man on his back and a male activist apparently trying to pin him down. Antony Blanchard, president of Cause Animale Nord, told the animal-issues website The Dodo that while the activist's behavior was not correct, homeless people allegedly abuse animals by drugging them for use during begging.  

The video has been viewed more than 1.2 million times. The group's Facebook post called their behavior a "rescue" and said they had renamed the dog "Vegan".

The assault has prompted online outrage and sympathy for the homeless man, whom the footage shows in a state of absolute distress. A petition against the group says "they went too far" and asks them to prove the dog had been abused.

The group posted the following response:  "It wasn’t a homeless guy but a Roma… He’s screaming because it’s his livelihood.” 

agw, ČTK, mik, ryz, Roma Virtual Network, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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France, Immigration, refugee, Roma



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