The author William Easterly seems chagrined on Twitter to see the “culture v. poverty” debate revisited here in these austere pages:
This month’s trial only intensified that debate when members of the defense team offered an unusual legal defense: rather than focusing on the argument that the Roma are forced to resort to crime because of poverty and discrimination, it claimed that in some cases they were simply following age-old Roma traditions and generally operate outside the norms of society in “the style of the Middle Ages.”
In France, as elsewhere in Europe, the Roma issue is linked to difficult questions of ethnicity, race, social exclusion and political gamesmanship. Last week, highly publicized protests erupted in Paris and several other French cities following reports that police officers had detained a 15-year-old Roma girl in front of her school friends and deported her to Kosovo with her family, who had been living in the Doubs region of eastern France as illegal immigrants for five years. The government has pledged to investigate the circumstances of their expulsion.