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Protests against Roma expulsions held in France

Paris, 4.9.2010 16:32, (BBC)

Demonstrators have been gathering in Paris and other French cities to protest against the government's policy of deporting Roma people.

Early turnout in Paris was lower than expected, with riot police appearing to outnumber the mainly African illegal immigrant protesters.

The low attendance possibly reflects polls suggesting 65% of people back the policy, a BBC correspondent says.

About 1,000 Roma (Gypsies) returned to Romania and Bulgaria last month, while official figures record that 11,000 Roma were expelled from France last year.

Anti-racism groups opposed to the moves predict that more than 30,000 people will gather in Paris on Saturday, and protests are planned in some 130 French towns in all.

The League of Human Rights, which called for the demonstrations, said it wanted to counteract government "xenophobia" and what it described as the systematic abuse of Roma in France.

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