Roma infant’s tiny grave outside Paris prompts controversy, renews fears about discrimination

Maria Francesca spent her short life living in a ramshackle camp on the edges of Paris-Orly airport. After the Roma infant girl died, only 2 months old, quarrels erupted over the tiny plot of land needed for her burial that have prompted an anti-discrimination investigation.

WISSOUS, France — Maria Francesca spent her short life living in a ramshackle camp on the edges of Paris-Orly airport. After the Roma infant girl died, only 2 months old, quarrels erupted over the tiny plot of land needed for her burial that have prompted an anti-discrimination investigation.

The mayor of the town Champlan, where the Roma camp is located, is accused of refusing to allow the baby to be buried there and saying the town needs to prioritize taxpayers in the already crowded cemetery.

The girl, who died of sudden infant death syndrome on Dec. 26, was instead laid to rest Monday in neighbouring Wissous, after the mayor there stepped in and agreed to accept the family.

France’s human rights ombudsman, Jacques Toubon, has said he will investigate the case that has called attention to discrimination against France’s estimated 20,000 Roma, also known as Gypsies. Most live in makeshift camps with few basic amenities.

The mayor of Champlan later said it was never his intention to turn the family away and has attributed the events to a “chain of misunderstandings.” He was on vacation when the family’s request for burial was refused.

Wissous Mayor Richard Trinquier said he believes that explanation and doesn’t think the events were due to discrimination, but said he doesn’t have “the same attitude of rejection.”

“I consider them people who have been failed by our society. We must take into account their problems,” Trinquier said of the Roma.

On Monday, after a funeral cortege headed by a Mercedes-Benz hearse, Maria Francesca was buried about 7 kilometres (4 miles) from the campsite, in a grave that overlooks the Orly runway. For a few moments, her mother’s moans drowned out the sound of jet engines from across the road.

“How could France act this way toward someone, as happened in this cemetery, in this town?” President Francois Hollande said, unprompted, in an interview with France Inter.

It is not the first time Hollande has been drawn into a controversy involving treatment of the Roma. In 2013, a teen Roma girl was pulled off the bus during a school trip and deported along with her family, prompting criticism of the government.

Just Posted

PHOTOS: Red Deer College Queens host third annual Pink in the Rink game

The RDC Queens picked up an extra special victory on home ice… Continue reading

PHOTOS: The Mustard Seed CEO speaks at Seeds of Hope Gala in Red Deer

The first-ever Seeds of Hope Gala was held at the Red Deer… Continue reading

PHOTO: Renewable Energy Fair at Red Deer College

The Renewable Energy Fair and Workshops event was held at Red Deer… Continue reading

Person airlifted to hospital after collision near Innisfail

One person was airlifted to hospital after a serious collision west of… Continue reading

WATCH: Make-A-Wish grants Star Wars loving teen’s wish

The Make-A-Wish Foundation granted Anakin Suerink’s wish in Red Deer Saturday afternoon

‘Stupid’ law preventing Canada’s re-engagement with Iran: retired envoy

OTTAWA — The real reason the Liberal government hasn’t been able to… Continue reading

Voters head to polls for BC municipal elections today

VANCOUVER — Voters in British Columbia will head to the polls today… Continue reading

All sharks tagged in N.S. expedition can now be tracked on Ocearch website

HALIFAX — All six of the sharks tagged in Nova Scotian waters… Continue reading

Memorial service for former PQ minister Lise Payette today in Montreal

MONTREAL — Mourners will gather to remember former Parti Quebecois cabinet minister… Continue reading

Immunotherapy scores a first win against some breast cancers

For the first time, one of the new immunotherapy drugs has shown… Continue reading

‘Mom I’m in trouble:’ Canadian, Brit face 10 years in jail for alleged graffiti

GRANDE PRAIRIE, Alta. — The mother of a Canadian who was arrested… Continue reading

Coyote on the prowl near Penhold

This coyote was out on the prowl in a field just west… Continue reading

Most Read