A ROMA pride march was held in Paris at the weekend, amid an atmosphere of tension over alleged racism towards the ethnic group in France.
It was the third such annual event, but came at an especially sensitive time this year, after Interior Minister Manuel Valls’s remarks that “most Roma do not want to integrate” and “they should go home to their country”.
Organised by European anti-racism body Egam and French Gypsy organisation Ufat, it aimed to dispel prejudice with music and a festive atmosphere. Among participants was TV presenter and musician Yvan Le Bolloch' (pictured), who is a member of Gypsy music band Ma guitare s'appelle reviens.
An Egam spokeswoman said: “We want to show that we can live together, and give a different image of these people, getting rid of fantasies and fears.”
However she said this year’s event, which attracted around 200, “was taking place in an atmosphere, and amid a public discourse, of incredible violence”.
Ufat president Alain Dumas called the event “a way of spreading by music messages addressed to the government and Europe about the stigmatisation of Roma people and travellers”.
The Paris event was one of around 15 Roma prides being held in Europe on Sunday, the organisers said.
Most Roma people in France are of Romanian or Bulgarian origin. Only a minority have a travelling lifestyle and the vast majority of “travellers” in France are French.
Certain provisional limits on Romanians and Bulgarians working in France, in place since the countries joined the EU in 2007, end on January 1. Foreign Affairs Minister Laurent Fabius recently spoke against the countries being allowed to join the Schengen zone which allows crossing borders without passport control. A decision on this is expected by the end of the year.