Ethnic Roma and French travelers have staged a protest on a major highway after hundreds were evicted from an illegal site. The French government is cracking down, vowing to close 300 campsites.
French police are undertaking a crackdown on Roma campsites
Members of France's ethnic Roma group and members of the country's native traveler minority blocked a major highway outside Bordeaux on Sunday after being evicted from a campsite near the city.
The blockade was the first major protest in the wake of a government crackdown on unauthorized sites across the country.
Protesters used cars, trucks and caravans to block the Bordeaux bypass and a bridge over the River Garonne in the southwest of the country.
Police and road safety officials said traffic in the direction of Paris was backed up for five kilometers (three miles) on a summer public holiday weekend.
The protesters blocked the bridge for some five hours, leaving to try to gain access to a sports ground. They were stopped by riot police and reoccupied the bridge for another hour-and-a-half.
Forced to leave site
The group of travelers and Roma had been forced to leave a campsite in the nearby town of Anglet, and had been denied access to an exhibition ground by authorities.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy last month announced plans to dismantle 300 unauthorized campsites within three months, following a clash between Roma, mainly of Bulgarian and Romanian origin, and police.
The raids, being investigated by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, were met with criticism from committee members at a meeting last week.
A lawmaker from Sarkozy's ruling UMP party, Jean-Pierre Grand branded the evictions "disgraceful" on Saturday, likening them to roundups of minorities during World War II.
Author: Richard Connor (AFP/Reuters)
Editor: Martin Kuebler
Tens of thousands of people have marched in Rome to voice their opposition to Prime Minister Renzi's plans to overhaul the labor market. The reforms aim to tackle unemployment and reboot Italy's stagnating economy.
The Salafist scene in Germany is rapidly growing, according to Germany's domestic intelligence chief. Radical Islamists have been adept in recruiting disaffected young Muslim men from families with migrant backgrounds.
Which is the way forward for the eurozone - saving or spending? The clash of opinions continues, and the new EU commission is to come up with solutions where the Brussels summit failed to deliver, argues Bernd Riegert.
The Picasso museum in Paris has reopened following a renovation which took more than twice as long as scheduled. The official ceremony took place on what would have been the famed artist's 133rd birthday.