French Jewish leaders decry Shoah comparisons


PARIS (JTA) — The French Jewish umbrella group spoke out against recurring comparisons between Nazi treatment of Jews and France’s current policy to rapidly expel Roma migrants.

In a statement this week, the CRIF said it was troubled by the repeated parallels made between the Nazi extermination of Jews and French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s controversial program to quickly send back hundreds of Roma, also known as Gypsy, migrants to Romania or Bulgaria, the native land for most of them.

“The differences are of such a great extent that the simple comparison demonstrates a large ignorance or great dishonesty,” said the statement published Tuesday on the CRIF website.

Some Catholic priests, and politicians on the right and left, have voiced especially fierce opposition to Sarkozy’s ongoing program to expel Roma migrants and dismantle 300 of their illegal camps. They repeatedly have compared the current security policy with the country’s “darker” past during the Nazi -occupied Vichy regime. Hundreds of thousands of Gypsies also were exterminated in Nazi death camps.

“Whatever one thinks of the current measures and declarations in France, it is no one’s right to manipulate history,” the CRIF statement concluded. 

Sarkozy declared Roma camps were “sources” of crime that could not be tolerated.

CRIF President Richard Prasquier spoke out this week against the overall risk of stigmatizing Roma migrants, and especially Gypsies of French citizenship. Nevertheless, he has continued to refrain from joining critics who directly accuse the current French government of stigmatizing Roma by depicting them as criminals.

“I’m among those who are convinced that at the head of the state, racism is a horror. That said, one must be very careful with their words and not generalize” about a single group, Prasquier said in an interview published Wednesday in the French magazine Paris Match.

Recommended from JTA