Making good on his promise to “turn Europe black,” Muammar Gadaffi is unleashing tens of thousands of North African Muslim freeloaders on Europe in retaliation for the military strikes against his country. Italy has issued temporary travel permits to get them out, knowing most of the illegals want to go to France anyway. But France is stopping all trains carrying these Muslim invaders at the border.
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UK TELEGRAPH –In dramatic scenes in south east France, border guards including riot police halted hundreds of mainly North African men who have crossed from Libya and Tunisia.
The trains, on which they travelled and which also contained Left Wing political activists calling for better rights for (illegal) immigrants, were attempting to cross from the nearby Italian border station of Ventimiglia.
“Our orders are to cancel all services from Italy,” said a spokesman for the French national train operator SNCF. He said the trains had been stopped on the orders of the Alpes-Maritimes Prefecture “until further notice”.
The Italian Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini, directed his embassy in Paris to lodge a protest with France. It was the latest chapter in a bitter diplomatic dispute caused by the arrival of thousands of black Muslim immigrants in Italy from Arab countries like Tunisia and Libya which have undergone revolutions this year.
Italy infuriated the French last week by giving out temporary residence visas, allowing the immigrants to travel in the European Union. Italy has been giving temporary residence permits to many of the roughly 26,000 Tunisians who have gone to Italy to escape unrest in northern Africa in recent weeks. Many of the Tunisians have family ties or friends in France, the country’s former colonial ruler, and the Italian government says the permits should allow the Tunisians to go there under accords allowing visa-free travel among many European countries.
Many want to go to France because they speak French, and because they believe that President Nicolas Sarkozy’s approach to the war in Libya means he will be sympathetic to them. But the French government insists it will only allow in those with the financial resources to live in France independently – a requirement which rules out most of those who have fled to Europe.
Security has been stepped up right across the Franco-Italian border, including along ancient foot paths linking the two countries. Italian officials have confirmed that thousands of immigrants have been arrested by the French and then sent back to them over the past few weeks.
According to the EU’s Schengen agreement, which came into force in 1997, free movement of people is guaranteed across borders. However, there is a clause which states that borders can be reinstated if there is a “serious threat to public security”, something which France’s Ministry of Justice believes is caused by hundreds of migrants arriving without warning.
The Italians believe that the French should accept refugees arriving on the Italian island of Lampedusa. Mr Frattini has already attacked France’s “absence of solidarity” while some MEPS have said France had no right to send migrants back to Italy.
Since the start of the Arab uprisings in January, some 20,000 illegal migrants have arrived on Lampedusa, roughly midway between Sicily and Tunisia.
France and Italy agreed to joint sea-and-air patrols more than a week ago to block any new North African migrants from sailing to destinations including Italy’s southernmost point, the tiny Mediterranean island of Lampedusa. It is not clear when joint patrols would begin.