Around 100,000 people took part in over 130 demonstrations across France last Saturday against the government’s attacks on immigrants and Roma people.
The biggest protest was in Paris where around 50,000 marched.
Other demonstrations took place outside French embassies across much of Europe.
The right wing government of Nicolas Sarkozy has already removed around 1,000 Roma from the country.
It is whipping up racism to deflect from its problems over a funding scandal and to divide opposition to its attacks on pensions.
The anger over state racism is linking to the fury over the austerity measures that led to Tuesday’s general strike (see page 5).
Bernard Thibault, general secretary of the CGT union federation, told marchers in Paris, “Defending freedom and the principles of democracy goes hand in hand with defending social rights.
“When freedom decreases, social rights decrease too.”
The opposition Socialist Party was prominent on some protests, but some of its leading figures are pandering to racism.
François Rebsamen, the Socialist mayor of Dijon, called for caution in supporting the protests.
He said, “Don’t ask our mayors and municipal representatives to set up Roma camps in our towns or turn a blind eye to certain squatters.”