French high school students take to the streets to protest against the tough line being taken against illegal immigrants following the removal of a Kosovan schoolgirl, detained during a school trip.
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Amid rising concern about the policy being pursued by Interior Minister Manuel Valls, the case of 15-year-old Leonarda Dibrani has brought hundreds of student demonstrators onto the streets of Paris, determined to march on the interior ministry building.
Leonarda, who is of Roma origin, was on a schooltrip with 40 classmates when the authorities contacted the teacher on her coach, demanding that it be stopped so that she could be deported from the country with her family.
The teacher, Madame Giacoma, told the Mediapart website how she had taken Leonarda - who she had known from the age of four - to one side to explain what was happening. She described how she took the weeping teenager in her arms to comfort her, telling her to be strong.
Describing the police action as "totally inhuman", an indignant Ms Giacoma said she had negotiated with the officers to allow Leonarda to get into the police car out of sight of her classmates to avoid further humiliation.
Leonarda and her family, who entered France illegally in 2009 and had exhausted all legal appeals against their deportation, are now all in Kosovo. She told French media that she wanted to return to France and felt lost in Kosovo.
At least 20 high schools across the French capital were blockaded by their pupils, as the government promised to review the treatment of the Dibrani family, in an attempt to relieve the pressure on Mr Valls.
Mr Valls, one of the most popular ministers in President Hollande's government, has been accused by socialist colleagues of betraying the left's values with his tough line on immigration.
In September 2013, Mr Valls ignited a controversy by saying that few Roma could ever integrate into French society and the majority should be sent "back to the borders". His comments were criticised by Amnesty International as "likely to stereotypes and encourage animosity."
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told parliament that Leonarda, would be readmitted to France if the probe found that police had broken rules by arresting her on school property.
The student protestors expressed their disgust at the police's action, one telling a French television crew "it's not about left or right, it's about equality in a democracy. I think it's completely immoral for the police to do that."
08 August 2013