28.09.2010 - FRANCE
Gypsy circus is next on France's expulsion list
After deporting many illegal Roma immigrants, Nicolas Sarkozy's government may force Europe's only Gypsy circus to close down.
With its mesmerising songs and startling acrobatics, the Cirque Romanès is one of the most unusual cultural highlights of Paris: the only Gypsy circus in Europe and the only show in the French capital whose artists retreat to their caravans after the curtain falls. For 18 years it has been attracting audiences to its exotic blend of poetry and performance. In June it was deemed good enough to represent France at the World Expo in Shanghai.But after a summer which has seen France crack down on its foreign Roma population and draw the ire of Brussels for the policy, the future of the circus and its loyal band of artists hangs in the balance. The authorities have refused to validate work permits for the five Romanian musicians whose instruments are crucial to the performances. The French employment inspectorate insists that the cancellation of the permits has no connection with the wider political climate, which has seen around 1,000 Roma return to their home countries in nearly two months and around 200 unauthorised Roma camps cleared by police. They say there are problems with the circus's functioning, accuse its owner of underpaying the musicians and question the use of child performers.