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Scuffles in France over Roma girl deportation

Police use tear gas against some protesters as students disrupt some 50 schools over expulsions of foreign pupils.

Last Modified: 18 Oct 2013 22:29
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Thousands of high school students are protesting in Paris over the expulsion of immigrant children and their families. Police have used tear gas against some of the protesters.

Friday's demonstration comes as the government is finalising a report into the treatment of a 15-year-old girl taken by police from a school field trip, then deported to Kosovo with her family as illegal immigrants.

About 50 schools in the French capital and the rest of the country were disrupted by second day of student protests sparked by the deportation of foreign pupils.

At least 23 schools in the Paris region were taking part in the protest on Friday, with many classes empty and the entrances to some schools blocked.

The protests began on Thursday after the high-profile deportation of Roma girl, Leonarda Dibrani, and the expulsion of another 19-year-old student to Armenia on Saturday.

Amid rising anger, sources in President Francois Hollande's government said it would make a statement about Dibrani at the weekend, after an investigation into how her expulsion was handled.

The Socialist government has raised the possibility of changing policy so that currently enrolled students cannot be expulsed from France.

Much of the anger has focused on how Dibrani was forced to get off a bus full of classmates in the midst of a school outing before she was deported with the rest of her family to Kosovo.

Protesters were demanding that Dibrani and the other expelled student, Khatchik Kachatryan, be allowed to return to France to continue their studies.

Integration of immigrants 

At the Lycee Charlemagne secondary school in Paris's Marais district, rubbish bins were piled up in front of the entrance and a banner had been unfurled reading: "Charlemagne is mobilising for Leonarda and Khatchik".

These are students just like us. They must absolutely be allowed to return to France

Heloise Hakimi, a protester

"These are students just like us. They must absolutely be allowed to return to France," said one of the protesters, Heloise Hakimi.

"We are creating a movement that is growing in France to demand their return," she said.

Some of the protesters have also called for the resignation of Manuel Valls, the controversial interior minister who has defended the expulsion and sparked anger last month by saying Roma migrants could not integrate into French society.

Dibrani was deported after being detained on October 9 in the eastern town of Levier, though her case only came to light on Wednesday when a non-governmental organisation highlighted the incident.

Her family was deported after all of their formal requests for asylum were rejected.

The case has been complicated by revelations that Dibrani's father Reshat had lied about his family's Kosovo origins to have a better chance to obtain asylum.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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