Thousands protest French crackdown on Gypsies

PARIS — A whistle-blowing, drum-beating crowd of thousands demonstrated in Paris on Saturday against expulsions of Gypsies as well as other new security measures adopted by President Nicolas Sarkozy's government.
Human rights and anti-racism groups, labor unions and leftist political parties were taking part. Organizers said demonstrations were taking place in 135 cities and towns across France, and others were planned outside French embassies in capitals such as London, Brussels and Bucharest.
They accuse Sarkozy of stigmatizing minorities and seeking political gain with the security crackdown. They also say he is violating French traditions of welcoming the oppressed, in a country that is one of the world's leading providers of political asylum.
The protests mark the first show of public discontent since the conservative Sarkozy, a former hardline interior minister, announced new measures to fight crime in late July.