Thousands protest deportations of Gypsy immigrants in France

Authorities say 77,000 protesters hit the streets in 130 towns across France in opposition to Sarkozy’s program to dismantle illegal Roma camps.

Reporting from Paris —

With the fast beat of Gypsy music rousing the crowd over loudspeakers, thousands marched in Paris and other cities Saturday to protest the French government’s deportations of Roma immigrants in the name of crime prevention.

Police said 77,000 protesters, led by left-leaning political parties and human rights organizations, hit the streets in 130 towns across France in opposition to President Nicolas Sarkozy’s program to dismantle illegal Roma camps. As part of his new security policy, nearly 1,000 Roma have been sent back to Bulgaria and Romania since the end of July.

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