Friday, August 20, 2010


PARIS (New York Times) - The French government has started a major push to crack down on crime and illegal immigration. This effort, championed by President Nicolas Sarkozy as imperative to preserve public order, has targeted several groups living on the fringes of French society. One of these groups is the Roma. The Roma come largely from Romania and Bulgaria in search of work. They are widely called Gypsies, though they dislike the name, considering it a slur. Many end up living in makeshift camps, like this one in La Courneuve, a suburb of Paris. About 100 French riot police - fully padded, but without helmets - swooped down on this encampment of Roma, taking names and filling out expulsion orders. The Roma are EU citizens, and therefore are legally permitted to move freely within the grouping’s nations, however, they are not permitted to stay in France for more than three months without a work permit or proof that they can support themselves financially.
The government says that many have left willingly upon request. The government paid for flights of 100 Roma to leave, also giving them a resettlement payment of about $385.

Whether leaving voluntarily or facing a possible forced eviction, the instability of the Roma existence appears to lead to poor health in the population. The Roma population has an average life expectancy of 60, 15 years lower than the average in France. The death rate among their newborns is higher than the national average. Residents of the camps are beyond the country’s generous social welfare net. Parents find it hard to feed their children. They take abandoned refrigerators and stoves to sell as metal scrap, and repair junked televisions and computers. They also pool money to buy gasoline for electrical generators and use municipal bathhouses. The expulsion campaign has been attacked as racist for singling out ethnic or racial groups rather than individual criminals.

Under the French law, Romanian citizens are given three months upon entering the country to find full-time employment. If they do not obtain a full-time work within that period, they can be expelled. If we do not perceive that God is in the very center of all existences, then love for our country becomes pride and we underestimate and reject to every foreigners.

The nations of the world, irrespective of race and religion, can only be truly united in love and harmony by following the path of prema-bhakti (love of God) as laid down by Sri Krsna Caitanya Mahaprabhu. Love (prema) is even greater than the concept of non-violence (ahimsa). To 'not harm others' is a negative; that is to say, it means to refrain from doing something rather than doing it. On the other hand, love or prema is a positive action; it is the effort to do good towards others. ... Since we are all infinitesimal parts of the One Supreme Entity, our true happiness lies in union, in the completion of the incomplete. If you water the roots of a tree, all the branches and leaves are automatically nourished. If you eat via the mouth and stomach, your whole body is nourished. Analogously, if you serve and please Śrī Hari, everyone will become satisfied, for all are in Him and He is in all.

Śrīla Bhakti Dayita Madhava Mahārāja :
"Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu and International Peace"
Lecture at Religious Convention at Balaji Bhavana
in Hyderabad from August 5 through 7, 1961.
Bhaktivedanta Memorial Library -

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