COSTESTI, Romania — A Romanian Gypsy leader on Wednesday compared French President Nicolas Sarkozy to Romania's pro-Nazi wartime leader, following the expulsion of hundreds of Gypsies from France.
Speaking during an annual Gypsy feast held on a hill at the foots of the Carpathian Mountains, Iulian Radulescu told The Associated Press that Gypsies — also known as Roma — are being unfairly expelled from France.
Dressed in a gray suit and sitting inside a white marquee tent, Radulescu said that hundreds of Gypsies are paying the price "for the crimes of a few."
"It is not right to be expelled if you are a law-abiding citizen," the 71-year-old Radulescu said.
France has sent back about 1,000 Gypsies to Romania and Bulgaria in recent weeks as part of its crime fighting measures. Sarkozy has linked Roma to crime, calling the camps in which some of them live, sources of trafficking, exploitation of children and prostitution.
Gypsy leader Radulescu compared the expulsions to the ones carried out by Romania's pro-Nazi dictator Marshal Ion Antonescu, who ruled the country during the World War II.
Antonescu deported 25,000 Gypsies from Romania to the Soviet region of Trans-Dniester in 1942. Some 11,000 Gypsies died from exposure, typhus, starvation and thirst after they were deported from Romania. A lack of wartime records makes it difficult to determine the overall number of Gypsies killed during the Holocaust, but according to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, it is between 220,000 and 500,000.
"Sarkozy is doing what Antonescu did," Radulescu said. He also urged Gypsy leaders to try and stop crime within their communities.