French President Nicolas Sarkozy vowed Friday to crack down on foreign-born criminals, pushing his "war on crime" amid fear of violence between police and immigrant minorities.
Sarkozy vowed to strip foreign-born individuals of their French nationality if they attack police or public officials, in the wake of deadly shootings and other violence between police and suspects in largely immigrant districts.
His declaration coincided with evidence of violent behaviour by the authorities themselves: a video of French police violently evicting Africans from a squat in a suburb of Paris.
The video, published on the website DailyMotion and broadcast by CNN news, shows police dragging screaming African women along the ground, including one with a baby in a sling on her back beneath her and another apparently pregnant.
The local Seine-Saint-Denis police authority rejected charges of brutality and said the eviction in La Corneuve, north of Paris, was carried out "in relatively good conditions."
Struggling in the opinion polls after his government was implicated in a financial scandal and in the wake of a spate of violent unrest, Sarkozy on Friday announced a headline-grabbing package of security measures.
Top of the list, in a week when Sarkozy had already threatened to expel foreign Roma minorities who commit crimes, was a vow to tighten nationality rules for other non-French-born criminals.
"Nationality should be stripped from anyone of foreign origin who deliberately endangers the life of a police officer, a soldier or a gendarme or anyone else holding public authority," Sarkozy said.
Michel Tubiana of the French Human Rights League said Sarkozy was "singing the old tune of the 1930s, aimed at stirring up hatred against foreigners" -- a reference to fascist persecution in Europe between the World Wars.
Speaking in the eastern city of Grenoble, scene of recent clashes between police and armed rioters, Sarkozy said that foreign minors who commit crimes would henceforth find it harder to get citizenship on coming of age.