Teenagers in Paris protest French government’s treatment of immigrants

Teens from Paris high schools marched  in anger over a immigrant girl taken from a field trip and expelled from France.
Francois Mori/Associated Press
Teens from Paris high schools marched in anger over a immigrant girl taken from a field trip and expelled from France.

PARIS — Several hundred French teenagers erected barricades outside their schools and marched through Paris on Thursday to protest the police expulsions of immigrant families — including some of their classmates.

Police sprayed tear gas at a few students throwing projectiles but most marched peacefully, some climbing on bus shelters to call for the interior minister’s resignation.

Anger erupted this week about the treatment of a 15-year-old Kosovar girl who was detained in front of classmates on a field trip. The government says her eight-member family was denied asylum and could no longer stay in France.


Such expulsions occur regularly across France as the government tries to limit illegal immigration. But the treatment of the girl touched a nerve, with critics saying police went too far.

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The students, saying the expulsions are unfair to children, hope to pressure France’s Socialist-led government to allow the girl and a recently expelled Armenian boy to return.

At one high school in Paris, students piled green garbage cans in front of the entrance and hung a banner saying ‘‘Education in Danger.’’

‘‘Everybody should have a chance. Everybody should have a job, work, and have a family. When children try to achieve that, France refuses, and that is not my country,’’ said protester Romain Desprez.

The protesters tried to march to the Interior Ministry, but were blocked by riot police. They diverted the march and it dispersed peacefully.


The Kosovar girl, Leonarda Dibrani, told Associated Press from the northern Kosovo city of Mitrovica that she wants to return to France. Activists said her family fled Kosovo five years ago because they are Roma, or Gypsies, and faced discrimination.

‘‘My home is in France,’’ Dibrani said in French. ‘‘I don’t speak the language here and I don’t know anyone. I just want to go back to France and forget everything that happened.’’