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The French government found itself on Wednesday the target of a storm of protests over the arrest and repatriation to Kosovo last week of a 15 year-old Roma girl who was taken into custody by police in front of her schoolmates after her family’s application for asylum in France was rejected. The heavy-handed arrest of Léonarda Dibrani, which was first revealed in a blogpost on Mediapart, has split opinion both among the ranks of the ruling Socialist Party and within the government itself, with education minister Vincent Peillon calling for a ban on the arrests of pupils during school activity. The controversy comes as interior minister Manuel Valls leads a high-profile, hardline campaign targeting Roma immigrants who he has claimed are not apt to integrate into French society. Interviewed by Mathieu Magnaudeix, Socialist MP Sandrine Mazetier, vice-president of the National Assembly and head of her party’s immigration affairs department, strongly denounces the treatment handed out to Léonarda Dibrani, and demands that sanctions be taken against the police prefect responsible for ordering her arrest in an act of “political provocation”.
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