Growing up in the 1960s, I watched women gypsy fortune tellers pass by my neighborhood to engage the “proper Christian ladies” for a session of fortune-telling. At the time, I did not know that the priest in the 1960s as the Pope 500 years before, in collaboration with governments Catholic and Protestant alike, launched a campaign to criminalize gypsies who posed a threat to Christendom. “Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday (Aug. 22, 2010) urged French-speaking Catholics to ‘accept legitimate human diversity’ and practice ‘universal fraternity.’"
Periodically, EU politicians trying to win popular support or in trouble with the public try to use the gypsies as scapegoats, as did Silvio Berlusconi in spring 2008 and now Nicolas Sarkozy. It has been many years since I was in France, but the last time I was there the socio-cultural ambiance romanticized in my mind appeared friendlier and more cosmopolitan than any other western country I have ever visited.
Mired in political scandals, suffering Bush-like approval in public opinion polls, confronting very serious social opposition owing to the current global recession and trimming of the welfare state, and losing the movie-star luster that he and his model wife commanded a couple of years ago, Sarkozy chose to persecute the “Roms.”