A recent series of attacks on the Roma population in France has terrified the community and Roma leaders have requested police protection.
Anina Ciuciu, a spokesperson for the Voice of Roma group, told RMC radio that they are calling on the government for “immediate protection by way of round-the-clock police presence.”
Reports of attempted child abductions set off a series of attacks on the Roma community. Ciuciu said the reports were “a revival of the medieval stereotype” of Roma in which “Gypsies are likened to thieves and child-catchers.” Police have confirmed that there have been no reports of kidnappings in the area.
Police arrested 20 people after attacks on Roma on Monday night in suburbs north-east of Paris.
The government seems to be jumping on the issue as an avenue to increase online censorship and to get more support for new laws that empower the government to fine people for sharing news they determine to be false. French government spokesman, Benjamin Griveaux, said the attacks showed “the absolute need to fight ‘fake news.’” Authorities used the events as an opportunity to remind people they can be fined more than one hundred thousand dollars for reporting news the government determines to be false.
On Monday, in the Paris suburb of Bobigny, some 50 people armed with sticks and knives attacked Roma people and set fire to their belongings. Roma were also chased in the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois.