February 23, 1997 in Nation/World

French Protest Immigration Law

Compiled From Wire Services

Tens of thousands of people marched through Paris on Saturday in a star-studded show of opposition against an immigration law they say is dangerous.

Although prompted by a bill to curb illegal immigration, the protest was equally against the influence of the far-right National Front and a perceived anti-immigrant tendency in French politics.

“This is against a state of mind that says immigrants are automatically guilty of the problems in our society,” French director Bertrand Tavernier said.

When the march ended, about 300 illegal immigrants, mainly from Asia, occupied a church in eastern Paris. They demanded negotiations to obtain residency permits.

Police said 33,000 people took part in the protest. The participants included Danielle Mitterrand, wife of the late Socialist President Francois Mitterrand; actress Emmanuelle Beart; theater director Ariane Mnouchkine; and British singer and actress Jane Birkin.

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