Racism against Roma people in France has never been exactly subtle, but recently it has taken a drastic turn.
Over the last few days, rumors of Roma kidnappers have spread like wildfire throughout France thanks to social media rallying on WhatsApp, Twitter, and Snapchat. The perpetrators described a “man in a white van” kidnapping children, with some false victims going so far as to report the fake offenses at police stations in person. In response, vigilantes attacked a series of Roma encampments on Monday, with around 20 people arrested on charges of violence and arson.
Paris’s prefecture of police went so far as to call out the rumors on Twitter as “Fake News,” issuing a warning that, “there’s a psychosis that is starting to set in,” regarding racism and xenophobia against Roma people in France. As of now, no one has been seriously injured, but police are still urging caution until the matter has been fully resolved.