Sarkozy said that of 785 people imprisoned following the riots, 83 are foreigners, but of those 40 have special protection that prevents their deportation.

 

"Seven of the procedures are about to be carried out," he said on Sunday.

 

"I do not see why that should be a cause for debate, it's the law."

 

During the rioting, which led to at least 4700 arrests, Sarkozy said he would deport any foreigner involved in the disorders in every case where the law permitted it.

 

However, he said it was not possible to deport minors of age, or those who arrived in France before the age of 13 and had strong family ties there.

 

Those being deported are considered a serious risk to public order.

 

Permits at stake

 

"When you have residence papers, meaning that you are a foreigner living legally in France, and you take part in riots or urban violence, you can expect to lose your residence permit and be immediately expelled," Sarkozy said.

 

"When you ... are a foreigner living legally in France, and you take part in riots or urban violence, you can expect to lose your residence permit and be immediately expelled"

Nicolas Sarkozy,
French Interior Minister

Last month, Sarkozy delivered a tough speech on immigration in the National Assembly, saying: "We do not want [the foreigners] that no one else in the world wants.

 

"We want to be able to choose those who will be welcomed on to the territory of the republic so that we can integrate them."

 

Although Sarkozy was applauded in the assembly, his remarks have been attacked by human rights groups, who have accused him of imposing a double penalty on convicted youths - an accusation he has rejected.

 

Those deported can appeal but have to leave anyway. If their appeal is successful, they could return, which some political analysts said would be highly embarrassing for the government.