Musician Django Reinhardt, new film


This 12 January 2017 video is called Berlin: Etienne Comar ‘Django’ at the 2017 Festival.

Another video which used to be on YouTube used to say about itself:

9 February 2017

The Berlin International Film Festival opens on Feb. 9th with the premier of Etienne Comar’s “Django.” The biopic is set in Nazi-occupied Paris in 1943 and tells the story of Sinti jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt.

By Bernd Reinhardt in Germany:

A film about the legendary guitarist: Django

4 March 2017

Finally, a feature film about the legendary jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt!

The timelessness of his music makes one too easily forget that it emerged in a very real and troubled world—characterised by an enthusiasm for everything American in the 1920s and 1930s, by socialist aspirations, by the threats of French fascists, by mass strikes—a time when Paris was regarded as a Mecca for American jazz musicians, the period of the German occupation of France, the Resistance and the flood of refugees from the war across Europe.

Django, the debut film of Étienne Comar—who deals relatively loosely with Reinhardt’s biography—focuses on the year 1943, when the Nazis tried unsuccessfully to convince Django to undertake a tour of fascist Germany.

Reinhardt (Reda Kateb, whose father was an Algerian actor) is initially uncertain. He is drawn to the prospect of sold-out concert halls. He is also of the opinion that the war between rival groups of “Gadjos” (non-Gypsies) is none of his business. In the end, artistic considerations lie behind his rejection of the offer. The Nazis, who could not entirely block the spread of jazz in Germany, demand a “clean” jazz from Django, preferably without syncopation, without blues, played only in optimistic major tones and with very brief improvisations; in short, a completely neutered music. This is unacceptable to the artist.

A blonde admirer, Louise de Klerk (Cécile de France), advises him to flee, but the vain musician enjoys his reputation in Paris as the “King of Swing” (following the departure of a number of outstanding American musicians) and continues to rely on the protection of a jazz-loving Nazi officer. Only when the pressure increases and Manouche [Romani people in France] are sent to “work deployments” in Germany—as the deportations are officially called—does Django flee with his family to the French-Swiss border.

For the many Manouche and Sinti [Romani people of Central Europe] in Django, who speak exclusively in their language, Romanes, the film must have been an affair of the heart. Comar (who also co-wrote the screenplay, based on a 2013 novel by Alexis Salatko) dispenses with such banalities as presenting Roma as spontaneous anarchists who instinctively reject bourgeois society, or as representatives of a nature-based, alternative way of life. Roma families playing idyllically in a forest are suddenly confronted with Nazi machine guns. In the next scene we see Django Reinhardt, the acclaimed guitarist, in a magnificent concert hall. This is the tightrope that someone in his position walks.

The illiterate Django laps up the glamorous world of the rich and famous, and imitates Hollywood film star Clark Gable. On the Swiss border, however, the King of Swing becomes a defenseless refugee whose mother (Bimbam Merstein) fights for her son to play for a few francs in a pub in order to feed the family. When Django plays the French national anthem, “La Marseillaise,” the bar-keeper’s face lights up.

Occasionally Django is contemptuous of Gadjos, but the film refrains from condemning his audiences and refrains from clichés about “other” forms of culture. Rather it reveals the lack of perspective of an oppressed minority, which has internalized its suffering as fugitives and outsiders over many generations. On several occasions Django makes clear that the French police and military hounded Roma with the same ruthlessness as the Nazis. But we also witness Roma joining the Resistance.

Django lives in the middle of Paris. He is not indifferent to the opinion of Gadjos who also play in his band. What Django shared with “non-gypsies” of his generation was, above all, an enthusiasm for America and its music. The arrival of jazz in Europe was a major cultural event and something of a symbol of freedom. Already as a 13-year-old banjo player, Reinhardt listened enthusiastically to bands from the US. Unfortunately, the film makes barely any reference to this formative period that contributed to Reinhardt’s original musical path.

The film’s Django exudes a strong attachment to traditional gypsy music (the film features prominently at the start his well-known “gypsy” song “Black Eyes”—albeit in swing style). In fact, the real Django Reinhardt drew inspiration from many sources. He was interested in the music of Bartok and Debussy (the latter inspired many Hollywood composers), he went to the ballet and began to paint. Unlike many European contemporaries, he was able to swing as well as the best American jazz players and (according to legend) could personally replace a whole rhythm section. This is why so many of the US greats lined up to jam with him.

Reinhardt’s music is finely played in the film by the outstanding Stochelo Rosenberg Trio. Kateb plays the guitarist with the “poker face,” who, with bells attached to his ankles, could entice an entire concert hall of the “master race” into dancing to his tune. Even the hardline Nazis, who raise their glasses and quote the German poet Friedrich Rückert for a “free, a German Europe”, succumb to the power of his music and lose control for a short time.

Reinhardt undoubtedly undergoes a development in the film. At the outset he is very naive. On seeing Hitler in 1943 for the first time in a cinema, Django chortles at the “clown” on the screen. At the end of the film, however, Reinhardt’s “Requiem” is performed; a piece he composed for and devoted to all the Roma victims of the Second World War. His tonal language has changed and become more universal.

The score of the “Requiem” has been lost and only fragments remain. Nevertheless, the score based on the fragments composed by the Australian musician and composer Warren Ellis is deeply touching, in particular during the choral section (sung in Romanes). The notion that Django Reinhardt might have opened up different musical paths is fascinating and, one hopes, may encourage young Manouche and Sinti musicians to go further than the limits imposed by playing exclusively gypsy swing.

Django is to be welcomed for dealing with a neglected chapter of history—the persecution of Roma under the Nazis. At the same time, Comar shows the contradictory nature of his main character who pragmatically tries to survive “between the fronts.” His ignorance of social and political developments and not least his egoism render Reinhardt blind to the impending catastrophe. He is free only in music. In the film, he is able to make it to Switzerland with his family. In reality, Reinhardt’s situation was more desperate. Swiss officials refused him entry due to his status as a “gypsy.”

Hungarian Jews, Roma, LGBTQ against bigotry


This video says about itself:

10 December 2015

Holocaust survivor Eva Bock describes antisemitism in Győr, Hungary during the early 1940s.

By Cnaan Liphshiz for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, February 27, 2017:

Roma Join Jews To Turn Budapest Club Into Anti-Government Hub

BUDAPEST (JTA) — Although she lives in the undisputed nightlife capital of Central Europe, Andi Angelip knows of only a handful of bars here where she is truly comfortable bringing a date.

Angelip, a 19-year-old student and activist for lesbian and gay rights, said she avoids “rainbow” establishments that cater only to homosexuals. Yet in a country where violent far-right activists regularly intimidate gays and lesbians, she also avoids romantic situations in mainstream clubs.

“It’s not so comfortable to be a minority in a country whose politicians preach for discrimination on a daily basis,” she told JTA last month.

Two years ago, Angelip found at least one place where she does feel comfortable: an avant-garde Jewish community center called Aurora. Since its reopening in 2014 in a poor neighborhood of Budapest, it has become one of the city’s hippest coffee bars – and a major hub for social and opposition activists fighting the policies of Hungary’s right-wing government.

“I come here because it’s just a cool place, but also because I feel safe and comfortable here, like I belong,” said Angelip, who is not a part of Hungary’s Jewish population of approximately 100,000.

She is not the only minority rights activist who regards Aurora, a 6,500-square-foot center located in a small building in the crime-stricken 8th District, as a sanctuary from reality in Hungary. Critics of Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government here say it is mainstreaming hate crime and Holocaust revisionism, as well as promoting censorship of the press.

Marom, the Jewish association that runs and owns Aurora as part of its outreach mission to young unaffiliated Hungarian Jews, provides office space and facilities to about a dozen non-Jewish activist groups committed to fighting these perceived trends. They include the Roma Press CenterBudapest Pride, the Migszol refugee advocacy group and the Zold Pok agency for social activism.

While Angelip and a female friend chatted over beer on a recent Monday in the Aurora bar – a cozy space with 1970s décor and music by the French protest singer Manu Chao — Marom’s staff of about 12 met in their upstairs office to review last year’s activities, including the group’s weekly Shabbat services in their small egalitarian synagogue and celebrations of Jewish holidays.

In addition to religious services, Marom also organizes educational activities in schools about the Holocaust, programs for street children, and cultural events like film screenings and experimental music concerts. It also hosts political discussions, such as a sold-out Jan. 30 debate on populism featuring László Majtényi, an outspoken critic of Orban.

“We work with non-affiliated Jews who would never go to a synagogue or even the Balint Center,” said Adam Schoenberger, the president of Marom, referring to the Jewish community center in central Budapest funded by the Joint Distribution Committee. “So we try to sneak Judaism into our programming, just to give them a taste and whet their appetite: a klezmer concert here, a Hanukkah candle lighting there.”

As Schoenberger talks to a visitor, in an adjacent room three activists from the Roma Press Center hammer out a strategy for covering the landmark trial at the European Court of Human Rights on the role of Hungarian police in allowing hundreds of rioters in 2012 to attack the home of a Roma family in the village of Devecser.

The court’s Feb. 8 ruling against the police  – one of hundreds of hate crimes against Roma, or gypsies, recorded annually in Hungary – was hailed by Amnesty International as a “drop of hope in a sea of fear.”

“Not only is the far right party, Jobbik, the third largest in parliament, but the ruling Fidesz party has drifter further and further in its negative attitudes towards Roma,” the group said.

Against this backdrop, and amid a government-led crackdown on independent media, the Roma Press Center is “the only outlet that will bring the news about assaults in the countryside to the few news portals that are still not muzzled by the government,” Schoenberger said. “We find it very important that they be a part of Aurora.”

The press center, a nongovernment organization with a shoestring budget, receives a significant discount on rent from Marom.

The cooperation with Marom revolutionized the work of the Roma center, which was founded in 1995, according to the organization’s president, Szilvia Suri.

“We were renting office space in the center before we came here,” she said. “It was more expensive but more crucially, we were isolated there, whereas at Aurora we are better connected not only to the other organizations working here, but to the many Roma people who live in the 8th District.”

The Jewish-Roma partnership at Aurora is unusual in a country where the two minorities rarely act in unison, according to Eszter Hajdu, a Hungarian filmmaker who has studied that relationship.

“While both groups encounter some xenophobia, the Roma are far more vulnerable,” Hajdu said. And while Jewish groups at times participate in educational and charitable activities to assist Roma, “I can’t say the Jewish community is the first one to offer help” to the other minority, she added. She also said that part of the problem are negative biases each group holds of the other in Hungary.

The discounts that Marom offered its partner groups last year on using Aurora facilities and utilities amounted to $25,000 — a substantial sum in a country where the average monthly salary is about half that of the United States. Marom generates 90 percent of its annual budget and receives the rest from donations by JDC, the UJA-Federation of New York, Masorti Olami and others.

Building an alliance of liberal groups would be unremarkable for a Jewish organization in most other Western countries. But in Hungary, it places Aurora squarely at the center of opposition to a government-led campaign to root out foreign-funded grassroots organizations that do not conform to the party line, and to significantly limit the work of nongovernmental groups to local funding only.

Officials from Orban’s Fidesz party have already vowed to root out the network of NGOs that receive funding from the liberal Hungarian-American billionaire George Soros, who is Jewish, and have limited the work of other groups with funding from Norway. Now, most other local groups with a progressive agenda are bracing for intervention by the government.

Marom has experience with such intervention.

In 2014, Budapest officials kicked the group out of its former site in the city center on a building safety pretext. The eviction notice came two days after opposition activists used the space to plan an anti-government sit-in.

It was one of several opposition activities hosted by Marom in recent years, including in the 2013 student protests. Marom’s previous site was also the birthplace that year of the LMP Green party.

Mazsihisz, the umbrella group of Hungarian Jewish communities, has objected in recent years to perceived attempts by the government to whitewash Hungarian authorities’ complicity in the Holocaust, including by celebrating known anti-Semites. But Mazsihisz has remained nonpartisan.

And with good reason, according to Slomó Köves, a Chabad rabbi and leader of the local EMIH Jewish group, which is not part of Mazsihisz.

The government funds Jewish community life with hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, supports Israel in international forums and protects religious freedoms, Koves said. And while “it can be argued that it needs to be firmer on anti-Semitism, progress is being made there, too.” Ultimately, he argued, Hungarian Jews are safer and more secure about their future than their brethren in France.

But for Marom, which began in 1998 as an apolitical group, the penchant for opposition activism is inescapable, according to Schoenberger.

This is partly because “most unaffiliated Jews in Hungary seem to be liberal,” he said. But ultimately, “our opposition activism owes to the government’s war on core Jewish values of tikkun olam,” a Jewish concept of “repairing the world” and helping the needy, Schoenberger said.

“We did not choose to become political,” he added. “But when the government is targeting the poor, the different, the foreign – then we have no choice.”

REVEALED: Top Trump aide Gorka worked with anti-Semitic and racist groups in Hungary: here.

Anti-Roma racism, new book


This video says about itself:

‘United For Dignity’ – Young Roma And The Fight Against Multiple Discrimination

27 June 2014

Key speakers, contributors and the rap group De La Negra are featured in this report on the Council of Europe conference ‘United For Dignity’ which took place earlier this week at the European Youth Centre in Strasbourg.

More information here.

Go deeper on this topic … listen to the podcast on how young Roma people cope with ‘Romaphobia‘ and the prejudice they face because of their gender, migrant status or sexual orientation.

By Tina Carr in Britain:

Hatred of the Roma challenged

Monday 20th February 2017

The Roma need to be seen in all their colours and engaged with on every level to be fully understood, asserts TINA CARR

Romaphobia: The Last Acceptable Form Of Racism by Aiden McGarry (Zed Books, £14.99)

THE ROMA are believed to have arrived in Europe from northern India in waves of migration from the ninth to the 14th centuries.

Found in every country on the continent, it would be difficult to find a more diverse group.

They number 10-12 million, yet are one of its most marginalised minorities, with anti-Roma attitudes on the rise along similar lines to both Islamophobia and anti-semitism.

Although they have traditionally been called “Gypsies,” today many prefer to be called Rom or Roma — men or women in their language, Romanes — because the term “Gypsy” has a pejorative meaning in many societies.

Equally, many Roma prefer to adhere to the term Gypsy or tribal names such as Romungro, Olah, Sinti or Tsigane, having identified as such for many generations.

British Gypsies and Travellers do not use the umbrella term Roma to define themselves, although they may share the same ethnic or linguistic origins as the Roma in Europe.

However, the term Roma is a useful and widely accepted coverall since the umbrella group do have a shared ethnicity, with the exception of Irish Travellers.

It’s said that where the tarmac ends, the Roma settlement begins.

The majority live in dire poverty, are ghettoised behind walls built to segregate them from the majority, are unemployed and, until relatively recently, have received little or no education.

As Aiden McGarry says in his new book: “Romaphobia is the hate or fear of those individuals perceived as being Roma, Gypsy or Traveller; it involves the negative ascription of group identity and can result in marginalisation, persecution and violence. Romaphobia is a manifestation of racism: it is cut from the same cloth.”

Racism is on the rise and, although Romaphobia is no different in form or content to Islamophobia and anti-semitism, its causes can be particularised — there is something specific about Romaphobia even if its racist core is familiar.

And this is what McGarry’s book sets out to explore through the early history of the European nation state and the ways in which the Roma, as “landless nomads,” have been excluded from national communities founded upon a notion of “belonging” to a particular territory.

It uncovers the causes of racism towards Roma communities and points to constructive ways to combat Romaphobia.

The addition of “phobia” to the word Roma is a great idea — to ally Romaphobia to the other more long-lived phobias of homosexuality and Islam gives it immediate parity with the great campaigns that have risen to defend the rights of these minority groups.

As Romani studies gains traction in academia and begins to come out of what McGarry describes as its “splendid isolation” by drawing on concepts and ideas from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including politics, sociology, public policy, humanities and urban geography, the more the under-researched and misunderstood phenomena of the Roma will emerge into the light.

The Roma need to be seen in all their colours and engaged with on every level to be fully understood.

Enlightened, sensitively written and always positive, this book making a valuable contribution to that coming about.

Tina Carr is co-author with Annemarie Schone of From the Horse’s Mouth: A Roma, Gypsy, Traveller Landscape, available from simply-solar.co.uk.

‘Stop segregation of Roma schoolchildren in Hungary’


This 1 April 2020 video is called Hungary Imposes Fascist Dictatorship.

This video says about itself:

Roma living in fear in Hungary

30 January 2012

Roma people have reason to fear for their lives: seven adults and two children died in 49 attacks on Roma communities in Hungary between January 2008 and April 2011, according to the European Roma Rights Centre.

“The Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (HCLU) reported the four most serious incidents during the patrols to police. One involved a woman giving birth prematurely after being harassed by vigilantes using racially abusive slogans. No charges have yet been brought against the militiamen, though a Roma man was jailed for two years after a fight with the vigilantes; a further five Roma are awaiting trial over the same incident.”

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Segregating Roma pupils should end

Tuesday 20th September 2016

HUNGARY should abolish the “benevolent segregation” of Roma children in schools, experts on the protection of national minorities said yesterday.

A report to the Council of Europe said separate classes for Roma to “catch up” before continuing in mainstream education were ineffective and discriminatory.

It noted a 2015 ruling by the Kuria, Hungary’s supreme court, which “effectively declared segregation of Roma pupils legal in schools run by religious groups.”

The committee said it was “deeply concerned by this development running diametrically contrary to principles of integration and equal treatment.”

Experts also found that PM Viktor Orban’s government had “fuelled xenophobic and intolerant attitudes against refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants.”

Roma refugee from dangerous Kosovo writes book


Nizaqete Bislimi (Source: DuMont Verlag / Franz Brück)

By Elisabeth Zimmermann in Germany:

From Roma refugee to attorney in Germany: Nizaqete Bislimi’s Durch die Wand (“Through the Wall”)

18 November 2015

In her book Durch die Wand (“Through the Wall”), Roma author Nizaqete Bislimi describes her difficult flight from Kosovo, the hardship and insecurity of life as a refugee in Germany, the harassment by authorities and the readiness to help of private volunteers and initiatives. Despite numerous obstacles, Bislimi, now 36, successfully completed school, studied law and now works as an attorney in Essen, Germany specializing in immigration law.

For the past two years, Bislimi has served as chair of the Federal Association of Roma. In light of the continuous attacks on refugees and the right to asylum, her book is highly relevant.

Nizaqete was 14 years old when she fled the village of Hallaç i Vogël south of Pristina, Kosovo with her mother, two sisters and two brothers in 1993. Her father’s family had lived there for several generations. She left behind the safety and security of a large family with its own house and garden where she spent a happy childhood.

They left because of the “increasingly heated tensions between the Albanian and the Serbian population in Kosovo.” Bislimi writes, “We fled from the spectre of a looming war which, though we could not exactly imagine it, we knew would affect us first.”

Her father could not accompany the family. He had just been drafted into the Serbian army and was forced to surrender his papers.

Bislimi describes in detail her experiences with the German authorities: the endless waiting in offices, the constant fear of rejection and deportation, the inhumane housing conditions and the bureaucratic and financial hurdles that stood in the way of her education.

She writes about the sentiments behind the slogan “the boat is full,” which characterized the official debates on the right to asylum in Germany in 1993 and, in the same year, led to a drastic tightening of asylum laws. Relatives advised the family not to apply for asylum as Roma or Ashkali (another ethnic cultural minority in [Kosovo and] Albania). They only stood a chance if they identified themselves as Albanians fleeing from Serb violence.

At first, the six-person family was housed in a cramped cabin without locks on a ship in the … Rhine. To secure the door at night, they pushed one of their bunks in front of it before going to sleep.

Food rationing presented another problem. “One of the first difficult experiences for us was the unusual German food,” writes Bislimi. “The pre-cooked food was delivered and handed out in metal containers and almost all of it hurt our stomachs and made us sick.”

The asylum process was an inhumane procedure. Again and again, Bislimi’s mother and all her children boarded the morning bus to their local branch of the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees where they spent the entire day waiting on cold chairs to be interrogated, have their fingerprints taken and have their applications processed.

“At the agency, there was no room set aside for children and we couldn’t go outside to play. There was nothing left for us to do but sit there and watch the clock while its hands went in circles. It was a scenario that would be repeated again and again for the next fourteen years of my life: waiting for someone to make a decision about my life without the possibility of influencing him or her myself.”

The Bislimi family’s next accommodations were former army barracks where entire families were assigned to one room. Despite the difficult conditions, friendships were forged. Families helped each other as much as they could.

Eventually, the family moved into refugee housing on the outskirts of Oberhausen in the Ruhr area in western Germany. They lived for months in this shanty town in a room no bigger than two by four meters, equipped with three sets of bunk beds, metal lockers and a small table with two chairs. Six single men lived in the room across from them. The few showers and toilets were run down and no amount of cleaning would solve the problem of burnt-on or dried dirt, mold and cockroaches.

After the initial shock, the Bislimis tried to make the best of their situation. During the day, they dismantled the bed frames and combined the mattresses to make seating areas. A curtain on the door protected them from all too prying eyes. With the junk on hand and gifts from fellow housemates, their room was somehow made livable.

Three months after submitting their asylum application, the family was notified that they were temporarily approved and would not be deported, but would still be obliged to leave the country. Bislimi writes: “This document meant that on any day we could be deported without warning. Our resident status in Germany was also highly uncertain and every evening before going to sleep we asked ourselves if this would be our last night.”

These uncertain conditions would continue for 13 years.

Nizaqete and her sister, who had been good students in Kosovo, were sent to secondary school in Oberhausen. Thanks to their own efforts and the energetic help of supporters who looked after refugees in the barracks, they finally succeeded in overcoming all the obstacles that lay before them.

In the summer of 1994, her living situation also improved. A separate housing unit of 24 square meters, with its own bath and kitchen, in a container village near the noisy A3 highway was now considered “lovely.” At a welcoming party in the new accommodations, Nizaqete met a German couple who would be an indispensable help to her in the coming years of harassment from immigration authorities and in her fight for a secure resident status.

As she dealt with the constant threat of deportation, Nizaqete decided she wanted to become an attorney. Almost insurmountable obstacles were placed in her way.

A Unicef study from 2010 is cited in the book, which indicates that access to education and social participation for the children of refugee families in Germany is severely limited. For decades, children of Roma and Sinti families were almost automatically referred to special education schools. In eight out of 16 German states at the beginning of 2005, compulsory education did not apply to children who were the subject of asylum proceedings or who had been authorized to live in Germany. Only in 2010 did schooling become obligatory for them in all of Germany.

Adding to their problems in Germany and their fears of deportation, Bislimi’s family worried about their father and other relatives in Kosovo. Her mother, most of all, lived in constant fear. “Refugee policy in Germany makes people sick in body and soul,” writes Bislimi. “I once heard the expression ‘death on the installment plan’ and found it very fitting.”

The family had to extend their short-term permits in a nerve-racking procedure every three months, sometimes every month. Vocational counsellors and public officials told Nizaqete that according to her permit, she could neither train nor study. She should just marry. There was no other chance for her. Finally, she simply enrolled at the Ruhr University in Bochum and completed her studies successfully. However, she did not receive support under the Federal Training Assistance Act or any other state funding. She paid for her studies with part-time jobs.

Following the successful completion of her first state examinations, Bislimi began work as a junior lawyer in the Higher Regional Court in Hamm. After 13 years, immigration authorities finally granted her a residence permit in June 2006.

Bislimi’s book is also critical of Nato’s military interventions in Kosovo, in which Germany also took part. Nato air strikes on Serbian positions in Kosovo triggered the humanitarian catastrophe, she writes. And after the war, when Kosovo was effectively partitioned off from Serbia, the problems facing ethnic minorities increased. “We heard terrifying stories from home. There was talk of pogroms that took place before the eyes of Nato soldiers, and talk of rapes and forced evictions.” Many of Bislimi’s relatives were killed.

In the last chapter of her book, Bislimi describes how Germany and the European Union pressure the Balkan states to take in refugees. Countries like Serbia, Macedonia and other states would only be granted visa facilitation if they would commit to repatriation agreements.

The living conditions of Roma are devastating. Close to a third of the 600 Roma settlements in Serbia have no water supply and 70 percent are not connected to a sewage system. The infant mortality rate among the Roma is four times higher than the national average. The average life expectancy of Roma women is 48 years.

Bislimi’s Durch die Wand provides numerous facts about the brutality of German asylum and immigration policies that have recently shown their ugly face again. With the tightening of asylum laws and the classification of Kosovo as a “secure third country,” people like Bislimi will no longer have the chance to stay in Germany.

The account of her family’s painful experiences is moving. It deserves a large readership.

Roma refugees in Kosovo poisoned by lead: here.

Jonathan Marshall says Kosovo chaos undercuts a favorite neocon/liberal-hawk war: here.

How Kosovo Was Turned Into Fertile Ground for ISIS. Extremist clerics and secretive associations funded by Saudis and others have transformed a once-tolerant Muslim society into a font of extremism: here.

Organised crime and corruption represent a grave threat to Kosovo’s society. Analysts have estimated that the level of crime and corruption in this country has started to jeopardise the very existence of Kosovo: here.

Will German army deal with refugees?


This video says about itself:

Lomazy, Poland: 1942 massacre of all 1800 Jewish residents

Lomazy, east Poland.

On 18 August 1942 Wehrmacht Battalion 101 together with its Ukrainian Auxiliary Company and local Polish collaborators executed 1,800 women, men, children, elderly people, the entire village Jewish population and refugees.

The massacre took place into pits in the nearby ‘Haly Forest’.

This was merely one of many genocide atrocities committed against European Jews.

This is the short 15m version of the 1h10m film.

Film was taken by Meir Garbarz Gover in 2005 depicting the last surviving Polish eyewitness to the massacre. He was aged 13 in 1942 and lived in the farm next to the massacre forest location.

Gover’s own great uncle and his family were among the 1,800 victims.

By Martin Kreikenbaum in Germany:

Calls for deployment of German army to deal with refugees

4 August 2015

Refugees in Germany face miserable living conditions, with many forced to reside in hastily and poorly built tent camps. In Bavaria, the first emergency camps for Balkan refugees have opened, and calls are growing for the deployment of the German army. The emergency situation created by the authorities is aimed at deterring refugees from seeking protection in Germany and preparing the way for a dramatic restriction of the right to asylum.

Although the increase in refugees has been predicted for several months, neither the federal government nor any state government made any serious preparations for the immigrants’ accommodation. Factories, schools and empty army barracks are being hurriedly turned into reception centres. There are neither sufficient sanitary facilities nor the possibility for private areas of any kind for the frequently traumatised refugees at these locations.

Terrible conditions exist in the temporary tent camps established in Hamburg, Eisenhüttenstadt (Brandenburg), Neuenstadt (Baden-Württemberg) and numerous other places. Up to 1,300 refugees have been crammed in together at these locations.

Conditions are particularly disastrous in the refugee camp in Dresden. When the first refugees were due to move into the camp established by the German Red Cross 10 days ago, a right-wing mob gathered in front of the camp and began attacking volunteers with bottles and stones. Police did nothing to protect the refugees or their helpers.

A few days later, the refugees protested the catastrophic conditions with a blockade. The tents at the Dresden site are jammed together side by side, sanitary facilities are totally inadequate and medical care and rubbish disposal facilities are virtually non-existent. It only took a few days for the first illnesses caused by the miserable conditions to make their appearance.

Authorities in Berlin have gone a step further and are leaving refugees homeless. According to the Berlin Council for Refugees, the state department for health care and social welfare is only giving out hostel vouchers to refugees, although just a third of the refugees find accommodation in hostels. Most hostels are filled with tourists or refuse to accept refugees, because the city of Berlin has failed to pay outstanding bills.

Refugees are compelled to sleep in parks or at the main train station in the open air. In violation of the law, they are given only €6 [$US6.56] per day, half the standard social security rate, to support themselves. If refugees then try to take action to help themselves, they are bullied. According to the Berlin state senate, begging in subways, on streets and in squares is “out of control”, resulting in its plan to ban begging by children.

In Ingolstadt, Bavaria, the Max Immelmann barracks are being refurbished to serve as a refugee camp for migrants from the Balkans. Up to 1,500 refugees will be accommodated there. Under the Bavarian government’s plan, a sped-up asylum procedure will see the applications processed within four weeks and the rejected refugees immediately deported. The Bavarian Refugee Council strongly criticised the planned reception centre and correctly described it as an “emergency camp with its own deportation airport”.

At the same time, calls are growing for the deployment of the army to intervene. German law excludes such a deployment in principle, because in the 20th century the Reichswehr—the army under the Weimar Republic—and the Wehrmacht—the armed forces under the Nazis—were used to brutalize the population. But this ban has been repeatedly watered down in recent years.

The German army was not only called on to assist during such natural disasters as the Elbe River flooding in 2002, but also at the G8 conference in Heiligendamm in 2007, when fighter jets and tanks were deployed to intimidate and suppress protests.

Now, the chairman of the committee on internal affairs in Saxony’s state parliament, Mario Pecher (Social Democratic Party, SPD), has called for the army to operate refugee reception centres. Saxony’s state premier Holger Stahlknecht (Christian Democratic Union, CDU) went even further, describing the number of refugees in Germany as an “international crisis resulting in conditions resembling the migration of entire peoples”. On this reactionary, hysterical basis, Stahlknecht raised the demand for “the current restriction of the German army to foreign deployments and disaster response” to be reconsidered.

Soldiers guarding camps of refugees from the Balkans recalls the Nazi concentration camps. In 1935, the Hitler government declared that Sinti and Roma were enemies of the Reich. More than 25,000 were registered in the German Reich and deported. In total, 500,000 fell victim to the Nazi butchery throughout Europe.

Today, relatives of the Roma make up the majority of the refugees from the Balkans. According to figures from the German government, 90 percent of asylum seekers from Serbia are Roma, 72 percent from Macedonia, 60 percent from Bosnia and 42 percent from Montenegro.

These refugees, in particular, are the target of scurrilous propaganda from the German media and politicians. Bavarian state premier Horst Seehofer (Christian Social Union, CSU) has denounced them as “mass abusers of asylum”, while Hamburg Mayor Olaf Scholz (SPD) sounded a similar note by contemptuously saying that the immigrants were “refugees without any perspective of staying”.

Scholz also appealed for special reception centres to “arrive at quicker, non-bureaucratic decisions”. This means nothing less than the illegal curtailing of the asylum process and the swift deportation of refugees. Markus Ulbig (CDU) has also demanded the legal restriction of the right to asylum. He has begun reviewing “whether there is the possibility of curtailing the rights of obviously groundless asylum applications by reforming the basic law”.

Baden-Württemberg’s state premier Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) also called for additional anti-immigrant measures, including the cutting of the pocket money of €143 per month and the more decisive deportation of refugees. He also supports demands from SPD and CDU figures to declare Serbia, Kosovo, Albania and Montenegro “secure” countries of origin, so asylum applications can be more quickly rejected and refugees more swiftly deported.

Roma in the Balkans, who already suffer from high unemployment and lack of prospects, are often discriminated against. They have virtually no chance of getting work, housing or education. Their settlements are regularly cleared by bulldozers and residents left homeless. Where settlements are tolerated, they are often located on or near rubbish dumps without electricity or water supply.

The German government is, in large part, responsible for the disastrous conditions in which the Roma live. In the early 1990s, Germany played a key role in the break-up of the former Yugoslavia and the subsequent brutal civil war. In 1999, it actively intervened to devastate the Balkans with its participation in the war against Serbia. At that time, an estimated 100,000 Roma were forced to flee their homes and many remain homeless and stateless to this day.

Last year, a journalist described the situation of the Roma in Serbia for the Federal Agency for Civic Education: “They live in slums, which do not exist, in streets, which do not exist, in huts that have no numbers outside. Their children do not effectively exist because they were born in a place that does not exist, and this place does not exist, because it is not listed in any land registry office and officially does not exist.”

ProAsyl cites a legal opinion arguing that the inhumane conditions under which the Roma live in the Balkans, constitutes a “cumulative persecution” within the meaning of the right to asylum, which means that the Roma should be granted protection status.

Instead, the Roma in Germany are denounced as “social state spongers”, incarcerated in special camps, which are then guarded by German soldiers. This can only be described as cynical, racist policies. The official stigmatization of Roma as “social parasites” creates the climate for incitement and racist attacks against refugee facilities.

French prime minister Valls in football corruption scandal


This video from France says about itself:

Duflot slams Valls over Roma comments – French Press

27 September 2013

In the French papers this morning – Housing Minister Cécile Duflot lashes out against Interior Minister Manuel Valls over his controversial comments on the Roma community.

From the BBC today:

French PM Valls scorned for Uefa jet trip to Berlin

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls has come under fire for using a government Falcon jet to fly to the Uefa Champions League final in Berlin at the weekend.

His initial explanation was that he had to meet Uefa President Michel Platini, however it has since emerged that he took two sons on the flight.

About Michel Platini, from earlier on this blog:

Michael Platini, the Uefa president, did not want to stand against Sepp Blatter in the most recent election. He may now see this as the time to put himself forward.

The former France captain called Mr Blatter’s decision to step down a “brave decision”. However, when the corruption allegation emerged at Fifa’s congress last week he said he was “sick of it” and said that he had advised Mr Blatter to resign.

In 2010 Platini had a famous lunch with Nicolas Sarkozy (then president), the crown prince of Qatar Tamin bin Haman al-Thani, and a representative of an investment fund that then owned Paris St Germain football club – ten days before Qatar was awarded the 2022 World Cup.

Platini subsequently voted for the Qatari bid and the Qataris bought Paris Saint Germain, through an investment company called Qatari Sports Investments (QSI).

The BBC article continues:

Born in Barcelona, Mr Valls is a known supporter of the European champions, and his trip prompted a public outcry.

But the row surrounding Saturday’s round trip from Poitiers to Berlin threaten to overshadow major reforms aimed at softening labour laws for small and medium-sized businesses and adding tens of thousands of jobs to the labour market.

Under the “Small Business Act”, businesses with no employees would be granted €4,000 (£2,920; $4,500) for giving their first worker a year-long contract.

Unemployment in France is at 10% and Mr Valls also proposed that employers should be allowed to extend temporary contracts up to a maximum of 18 months.

Political satire magazine Le Canard Enchainé cited Fifa suggesting that no meeting with the Uefa president had even been arranged before the flight. …

But French media said further revelations in the affair were expected to come out in the next 24 hours, and one correspondent pointed out that Mr Valls himself said last September that anyone who had failed to reach the ethical standard expected of them should be dismissed.

According to NOS TV in the Netherlands, not only center right opposition politicians, but also members of the left wing of Valls’ own Socialist Party had already accused Valls earlier of wasting taxpayers’ money on luxurious private expenses.

Hitler’s mass murder of Dutch Jews


Memorial at the Westerbork Museum for the deported prisoners by Nina Baanders-Kessler

By Josh Varlin:

75 years since the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands

The Westerbork transit camp and the destruction of Dutch Jewry

11 May 2015

May 10, 2015 marked the 75th anniversary of the Nazi invasion of the Netherlands. After the week-long Battle of the Netherlands concluded, the occupying forces began implementing their plans to integrate the Netherlands directly into the German Reich, including the deportation and extermination of Dutch Jews. Over the next five years, tens of thousands of Jews were deported from the Westerbork transit camp to Auschwitz and other camps.

The Dutch government hoped to remain neutral during the World War II, as it had during World War I, but both the Allied and Axis powers considered plans to violate the neutrality of the Low Countries (the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg). Hitler ultimately made the decision to invade the Netherlands to secure potential airfield spots in the flat countryside, guarantee troop movement to northern France, and prevent the Allies from gaining these strategic advantages.

The Battle of the Netherlands began May 10, 1940, with attacks by German paratroops airdropped outside Rotterdam, a cross-border assault, and widespread bombing. The Dutch army was unprepared for the war, in part because of the Dutch ruling class’ concentration on “defending” its prize colony, the Dutch East Indies, now Indonesia.

On May 15, 1940, after less than a week of resistance, the Dutch armed forces capitulated and a formal surrender was signed. Fighting continued in the southern province of Zeeland (Zealand) for a few more weeks with the support of French troops, with the last parts of the province occupied by May 27.

The next five years—until the surrender of occupying Nazi forces on May 5, 1945—saw the near-total destruction of Dutch Jewry, with over 70 percent systematically killed by German imperialism.

Anti-Semitic measures began almost immediately after the occupation began. The Nazi-installed civil government banned Jews from many public positions, including at universities. Physical violence was employed against Jews by fascist thugs, and street fights became common. One supporter of the Nationalist Socialist Movement in the Netherlands (NSB) died from injuries sustained in a fight on February 11, 1941. The Nazi government responded by “ghettoizing” Amsterdam’s Jewish quarter and engaging in ruthless pogroms to round up Jews.

In 1942, the occupying government took over the Westerbork refugee camp, which had been established in 1939 by the Dutch government to house German-Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution. Over the next three years (1942-1944), approximately 107,000 Jews were sent to Westerbork, almost all of whom were eventually sent east on the 97 trains that left the camp. The first left for Auschwitz-Birkenau—the most common destination—on July 15, 1942. Over 60,000 Jews were sent to Auschwitz from Westerbork, many of whom were gassed on arrival.

Many other trains went to Sobibór—some 34,000 people were deported there, with only 19 survivors. Nine trains went to either Bergen-Belsen or Theresienstadt.

Approximately 102,000 Dutch Jews died in the Holocaust, with only 5,000 liberated in the camps—almost 1,000 of these survivors were freed from Westerbork, which is located nine kilometers south of Assen near the German border. Notable prisoners at Westerbork included cabaret director Max Ehrlich, figure skater Ellen Burka and diarist Anne Frank; only Burka survived the war.

Among the Sinti and Roma victims of the Holocaust in the Netherlands was Settela Steinbach, a 9-year-old Dutch Sinti girl who was deported on May 19, 1944 to Auschwitz, where she was gassed. The deportation was captured on film.

This video shows the deportation from Westerbork of Settela Steinbach and others.

Footage of the child’s face looking out from the cattle car became emblematic of the Holocaust.

Resistance fighters and any detainees who disobeyed were sent to the prison section of Westerbork. In addition to the resistance members sent east, 48 were executed and cremated at Westerbork, along with 4 Jews. Ten additional resistance members were executed elsewhere and cremated at Westerbork.

On April 12, 1945, Canadian troops liberated Westerbork and the remaining 876 prisoners. Westerbork then became an internment camp for members of the NSB or Waffen SS and other Dutchmen accused of collaborating with the Nazis.

National Westerbork Memorial (1970) by Ralph Prins, a survivor of the camp

The internment camp closed December 1, 1948 and was subsequently used as a training ground for soldiers before they were sent to fight for Dutch control of the Dutch East Indies during the Indonesian War of Independence, and, in the 1960s, as a temporary home for “Moluccan separatists,” the remnants of a Dutch proxy army that had aimed at crippling independent Indonesia.

The camp was gradually demolished, and its isolation—which was an important factor in its construction and eventual use as a transit camp—made it the ideal site for radio telescopes. The Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope, finished in 1970, now contributes to mankind’s understanding of the cosmos through infrared imaging of galaxies. Thus modern technology has been used twice in the same area for wildly different purposes—near-annihilation of an entire people during the Second World War and exploring the universe today.

The Westerbork Museum opened in 1983, with some barracks at the camp partially reconstructed. For each Westerbork inmate that died in the Nazi extermination camps there is a small stone. The 102,000 Jewish victims are indicated with a Star of David, whereas the 245 Sinti and Roma victims are represented by 213 stones topped by a flame. One hundred stones have no emblem and represent the resistance fighters who were imprisoned at Westerbork before being sent east.

Memorial stones at Westerbork

The experience of Word War II and the Holocaust in the Netherlands offer lessons for today’s workers and youth. Neutrality and living in a minor imperialist power did not save the Dutch population, particularly Dutch Jews, during the Second World War. Nor will a nuclear Third World War spare civilians. The horrors of World War II point urgently at the need to avert a third through the working class waging war on war.

The author also recommends:

Seventy years since the defeat of Hitler’s Third Reich
[9 May 2015]

Seventy years since the liberation of Auschwitz by the Red Army
[16 February 2015]

Imperialism and the political economy of the Holocaust
[12 May 2010]

Antwerp, Belgium Catholic collaboration with nazi persecution of Jews: here.

Kosovo refugees discriminated against in Germany and Austria


This video says about itself:

Gypsy Blood: The Roma, Ashkali and Egyptian IDPs of Mitrovica, Kosovo

In July 2000, WHO (the World Health Organization) urgently appealed to the UN administration in Kosovo to close their three Roma (Gypsy) IDP (internally displaced peoples) camps in the Mitrovica area because they had been built on highly toxic wasteland. More than six years later, the UN has still not evacuated these camps, nor sought medical treatment for the life-threatening lead levels in the blood of those living there.

The International Committee of the Red Cross, Amnesty International, Society for Threatened Peoples, Refugees International (and many other humanitarian organizations) have demanded in writing to the UN the immediate evacuation of these three camps. This film encourages the international community to intervene. Unable to return home or obtain refugee status in a third country, these Gypsies remain trapped on toxic land where every child conceived will suffer irreversible brain damage.

By Markus Salzmann in Germany:

Germany and Austria discriminate against Kosovo refugees

27 February 2015

In the course of the past six months, according to media reports, 50,000 people have left Kosovo, some 35,000 in the last month-and-a-half alone. Their main destinations are Germany, Austria and Scandinavia.

The exodus is the result of the catastrophic economic and social situation in Kosovo, which is making life unbearable for the majority of the population. “Kosovo is the poorest country in southeast Europe,” migration researcher Besa Shahini, from the European Stability Initiative think tank, told Der Spiegel. “The numbers of refugees have been increasing continuously for several years, so in that respect it is not a new phenomenon.”

Average wages in Kosovo are €220 per month. Without remittances from Kosovars who have found work abroad, many families would be unable to survive. The official unemployment rate is 27 percent, but the real rate is estimated at more than double that. Youth unemployment is thought to be around 70 percent. According to figures from the World Bank, around a third of residents are living below the poverty line, on less than €1.50 per day.

The annual income per head in 2013 was somewhat more than €2,500. This is not even half the figure of the European Union’s (EU) poorest state, Bulgaria, and roughly one-tenth of the EU average.

Deutsche Welle reported on an unemployed father, Fitim S., who travelled with his family to Germany. He said he did not even receive social welfare in Kosovo of €80 per month, because, according to the justification, he has a house and did not have to pay rent. “We were told that we could get asylum in Germany,” said the desperate father.

The British Daily Telegraph quoted a woman in Kosovo, who stated, “It is sad for Kosovo, but there is no hope here for the people. They are leaving the country because they are desperate.”

There is no organised medical care. Health care from a doctor or at a hospital can only be obtained in exchange for cash. The country, with a population of 1.8 million, is dominated by criminal clans that are closely connected to the major political figures in the country and enrich themselves through prostitution, people trafficking, and the drugs and arms trade. Corruption is rampant.

“Those with no connections or associations with the clans in the political parties have no career prospects,” states Der Spiegel. “Many people in Kosovo are just fed up with the situation and simply want to escape,” said Iliriana Kaçaniku, who works as an expert on EU integration at the Kosovo Foundation for an Open Society (KFOS). Kosovo is one of Europe’s most corrupt countries. On Transparency International’s index, the country is in 111th place.

Since Kosovo’s independence in 2008, the European powers have not improved the situation at all, but are themselves deeply implicated in the network of corruption and the black market. The Eulex mission, aimed at establishing an independent judiciary, is discredited.

The daily Koha Ditore uncovered that a number of corrupt state prosecutors and judges involved with Eulex had called a halt to prosecutions or handed down milder punishments in exchange for money. German news magazine Die Zeit named the Italian judge Francesco Florit, who allegedly received €300,000 in exchange for clearing a man charged with murder.

The catastrophe in Kosovo is the direct result of the intervention by the major western powers. They deliberately provoked the ethnic conflicts in Yugoslavia for their own interests.

In 1991, Germany’s foreign policy backed the breakup of the Yugoslav state by rushing to recognise Slovenia and Croatia as independent states. The United States followed suit and forced the independence of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The result was the extremely bloody four-year Bosnian war, in which the western powers intervened with their own troops.

The NATO states subsequently used the separatist strivings in Kosovo they had promoted in order to move against Serbia. In 1999, US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright presented the Serbian government with an unacceptable ultimatum at the Rambouillet meetings. When it was rejected, NATO went to war with Serbia.

Even then, Albright and German foreign minister Joschka Fischer relied on the support of dubious elements like Hashim Thaci, currently deputy Prime Minister of Kosovo. Thaci, as head of the Kosovo Liberation Army militia, was wanted by Serbian authorities for terrorist attacks against security forces, and had also been accused of liquidating rivals within his own ranks. He also had ties to the drug mafia.

After the war, Kosovo was under United Nations administration, practically under the military and political control of the countries who led the war. The country’s declaration of independence in 2008, which was only recognised by the western powers, further intensified ethnic tensions in the region.

The governments of the countries that pressed for Kosovo’s separation and independence are now responding with an inhumane policy of deporting refugees fleeing the catastrophe they have produced. Almost none of the asylum seekers from Kosovo are permitted to stay in Germany or other European countries. The human rights organisation ProAsyl estimates that only 40 Kosovars were given the right to reside in Germany in 2014. Almost 9,000 applications were lodged.

“There is no asylum for Kosovars,” Manfred Schmidt, President of the federal office for refugees and immigration, bluntly stated. Almost all asylum applications from Kosovar nationals are rejected because they cannot prove any political persecution. Many of the refugees have used all of their savings for the journey and face an even more hopeless situation after their return.

In Germany, the interior ministers at the federal and state levels enacted several measures two weeks ago to restrict the flood of refugees from Kosovo. The German police will provide support to the Serbian border police. This could mean that Kosovars who possess a Serbian passport will be prevented from crossing the Hungarian border.

In contrast to past practices, asylum seekers from Kosovo are not to be distributed among the municipalities after they have been registered. Instead, their asylum proceedings are to be completed at arrival centres within two weeks. European spokesman for ProAsyl, Karl Kopp, criticised the plan, commenting, “There will certainly not be impartial proceedings.” It was merely about “declaring the people to be ready for deportation as quickly as possible.”

Discussions are also ongoing about classifying Kosovo as a secure third country. The most recent states to be classified were Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and Serbia. Since November of last year, applications for asylum from nationals of these countries have been rejected in sped-up proceedings as “obviously unjustified.” Subsequently, deportations must take place within a week. The interior minister in Saxony, Markus Ulbig (Christian Democratic Party), has already demanded such a classification for Kosovo.

The state president in Baden-Württemberg, Winfried Kretchmann (Green Party), spoke out cynically in the Süddeutsche Zeitung in favour of denying asylum to Kosovars. “We have a right to asylum which is meant for people who are politically persecuted. Currently, the mass migration of people from Kosovo is beyond that—but this can’t go on, they are not politically persecuted. It is overwhelming and endangering the right to asylum.”

In Austria, interior minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner (Austrian People’s Party) has provoked a campaign against the refugees on behalf of the Social Democratic-Conservative government. She described it as her mission to restrict the storm of refugees from Kosovo. In the name of this goal, she arranged for statements to be distributed in Kosovo making it absolutely clear that refugees are not desired in Austria and could be punished with prosecution.

The text states, “Smugglers lie. There is no asylum in Austria on economic grounds.” For breaching the EU’s travel ban, a fine of up to €7,500 is threatened.

Leaving Kosovo: Exodus of young people as frustration soars: here.

French government’s anti-democratic austerity


This video is about the anti-Roma racism of French Prime Minister Valls, when he still was Interior Minister. It says about itself:

Duflot slams Valls over Roma comments – French Press

27 September 2013

In the French papers this morning – Housing Minister Cécile Duflot lashes out against Interior Minister Manuel Valls over his controversial comments on the Roma community. Can Hollande tackle unemployment?

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

PM Valls forces through austerity Bill

Friday 20th February 2015

FRENCH Prime Minister Manuel Valls rode out a vote of no confidence in the National Assembly yesterday, triggered after his government forced through an austerity Bill without a vote.

This video from France says about itself:

Valls uses controversial law to force through reform bill

18 February 2015

Three digits dominated French political discussion today: four, nine and three. Article 49.3 of the French Constitution was controversially invoked by the French executive to force through the so-called “Macron law” – a series of economic reforms.

The Morning Star article continues:

Article 49.3 of the French constitution lets the government skip a parliamentary vote on the law but exposes it to a vote of censure.

Communists and rightwingers decried the use of the undemocratic power, but couldn’t pull together enough MPs to topple the government despite grumbling among the ruling Socialist Party.

The French Communist Party said Mr Valls’s use of Article 49.3 showed the deep opposition to austerity, with him unwilling to see the defections that would accompany a vote.

The Bill, known as the Macron law after its drafter Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron, is the French government’s response to demands for austerity from the European Union.

It will let bosses sack workers more easily, deregulate the notary and legal professions and extend Sunday trading, among other things.

It follows a massive handout to private firms in the form of a €40 billion (£30bn) business tax cut.

The Bill and tax cut make up Socialist Party President Francois Hollande’s bid to reduce the country’s 10 per cent unemployment rate.

But similar measures forced by the EU and European Central Bank on debt-saddled southern European nations including Greece, Spain and Portugal have savaged their economies and sent unemployment rates soaring.

Almost one in four people are out of work in Spain, compared with one in 10 in France and one in 20 Germany, which has some of the strongest employment protections in Europe.

In a March 11 radio interview with France Info, former Socialist Party (PS) finance minister Pierre Moscovici, now European commissioner for economic and monetary affairs and taxation, demanded that France’s PS government implement deep new cuts. He also defended the European Union’s (EU’s) demands for stepped-up austerity by the new Syriza government in Greece: here.