France To See Demonstrations Against Roma Expulsions

"Demonstrations are planned across France in protest at the government's policy of deporting Roma people. Anti-racism groups opposed to the moves say that more than 30,000 people may rally in Paris alone. There has been strong international criticism of the deportations, which saw 1,000 Roma (Gypsies) returned to Romania and Bulgaria last month. However, opinion polls suggest more than half of French people back the government on the issue. According to official figures, 11,000 Roma were expelled from France last year. The League of Human Rights, which called for the demonstrations, said it wanted to counteract government ""xenophobia"" and what it described as the systematic abuse of Roma in France. At least 138 demonstrations are planned, including a march through the capital due to start at 1400 (1200 GMT). The rallies are being backed by the opposition Socialist Party and the General Confederation of Labour (CGT), France's second largest trade union confederation."