Amid cries of “education for all” and “support for Leonarda”, protests will continue today over the expulsions from France of several students.
Leonarda Dibrani, a 15-year-old girl who French authorities removed from a school bus and deported to Kosovo, has become a focal point in France’s ongoing migration debate.
Protesters are unhappy about how she was expelled and are calling for a revision of France’s immigration policies.
Leonarda’s father, Reshat, is now saying he lied on his original request for political asylum, by saying that the children were of Kosovan origin. He claims that one of his children was actually born in France, and the rest were born in Italy.
“We sought asylum in France and we had to destroy our Italian papers in order not to be sent back to Italy,” he said.
“We told authorities that we are from Kosovo. In reality, my children have nothing to do with Kosovo.”
“I was born in Kosovo,” he continued, “and actually this morning I went to register myself with Kosovar authorities. None of my children or my wife were born here. I understand if they deport me but I don’t understand why they should deport the rest of my family.”
Reshat Dibrani has reportedly been investigated by the French authorities on a previous occasion. Two of his children are said to have been taken away from him for two weeks upon accusations that they had been beaten.The case was later dropped.
French Interior Minister Manuel Valls defended Leonarda’s expulsion as fully legal. However, not everybody agrees with Valls, as some members of his own Socialist party have spoken out against him, accusing him of “betraying the left’s values with tough immigration policies”.
Valls responded by saying: “I am on the left because I believe we need policies that uphold the rule of law, human rights and humanity, but also a strong and clear policy to regulate migratory flows.”
French authorities will announce their verdict on whether the expulsion was correctly carried out according to French law on Friday.