Leaders in France have drawn criticism from other European countries and the European Union (EU) for their decision to send thousands of ethnic Roma, commonly known as Gypsies, back to Romania and other Eastern European countries. The Roma have historically been nomadic, moving from place to place and setting up mobile camps where they often don't have access to schools, medical care or jobs.
French citizens are divided over whether their government should have expelled the Roma. Some say the Roma should be expelled because they are engaging in illegal activities, are prone to joblessness and require too much assistance from the government. Other French people say their government stands for equality and should allow all people to stay in France without discriminating.
Roma rights groups say the French government should spend the money it's giving out to Gypsies in the form of plane tickets to Romania on schools and infrastructure for them instead. For the time being, though, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has continued dismantling and eliminating Roma Gypsy camps all over the country. Meanwhile, the E.U. has set up a task force to figure out better ways to use its funds to help the Roma.
"They are here without work and without papers and without money, so, they are better in their country." - Philippe Courcier, retired engineer, France
"Those people are human beings. And I don't see why they are expelled. They shouldn't be. This is so-called country of equality and fraternity. It is not. It is a racist country. I think the government is racist." - Faisal Benhassain, France
"I personally have been appalled by a situation which gave the impression that the people are being removed from a member state of the European Union just because they belong to an ethnic minority. This is a situation I have thought Europe wouldn't have to witness again, after the Second World War." - Viviane Reding, commissioner, European Union Justice
"France should be admired for doing this. When people settle down illegally in our country, they must be sent back to their country of origin. When people live illegally, when they don't have a job, how do they make a living?" - Frederic Lefebvre, Union for a Popular Movement, France
1. What are Gypsies?
2. Where is France?
3. What is an "ethnic minority"?
1. Do you think France is right to be sending Roma people back to Eastern Europe? Why or why not?
2. In the video, E.U. Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding compares France's deportation of the Roma to the Nazis' removal of Jews and other minorities during World War II. Do you think that comparison is justified? Why or why not?
3. What are examples of ethnic minorities in the U.S.? Have any of those groups ever had to fight for equal rights in this country? Can you give examples?