A sleepy French village torn apart by a centre for migrants

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The usually tranquil village of Allex, in the Drôme Valley region of south-east France, has become agitated over the imminent opening of a reception centre for migrants. Villagers’ opposition to the centre, which will house about 50 individuals, has prompted the mayor to announce a referendum on the issue. Laurent Geslin reports from this small village of 2,500 inhabitants where, as France’s 2017 presidential election campaign draws closer, local conservative and far-right parties have jumped upon the opportunity to stoke the fires of prejudice and resentment.

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Gérard Crozier, the mayor of Allex, a hilltop village in the Drôme Valley in south-east France, spoke clearly and with a firm tone of voice as he addressed a municipal council meeting in the village hall on September 13th over his proposition for holding a referendum.