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Truncheons and tear gas... France goes extra mile so refugees can feel at home

By Mark Steel

Published 05/03/2016

Welcoming committee: French police wore riot gear to clear refugees from a camp in Calais
Welcoming committee: French police wore riot gear to clear refugees from a camp in Calais

In this volatile world, it's heartwarming to see the effort the French authorities went to this week in demolishing the tents and living quarters of refugees in Calais. Because most of those living in the camp had fled from war zones, it's a lovely touch for the French to go to such lengths to make the migrants feel they were back home.

Some of the migrants have fled from Isis, so maybe next time the police can drag them into a basement and make a little film of someone standing over them with a sword, so they'll feel a little tear in their eye and weep: "It's so good to be reminded of my village."

The main instruments used to clear the camp in Calais were bulldozers and tear gas - which is fitting, because the lawyer at the hearing in which the demolition was ordered said the reasons for the evacuation were "the dignity and security of the refugees".

Nothing makes you feel more dignified and secure than a cloud of tear gas in the face.

One evicted woman was a pregnant Iranian Kurd, who was filmed being batoned and wrestled to the floor, and as she was being handcuffed she must have thought: "After all I've been through, it's a comfort to enjoy a moment of dignity at last."

But, as well as dignity there's the security and the French government says it is moving the refugees to better accommodation, so they're just helping them along by gassing them - like an enthusiastic branch of Pickfords.

Whenever I've moved house, I've infuriated myself by dawdling and going back indoors to check I've not forgotten anything and often wished the removal men would give me a hand by whacking me with truncheons and snapping my arm in three places.

The first area of the camp demolished was the part that contained the health centre and makeshift school - and there's nothing more humanitarian than knocking down annoying places like that.

The French authorities, however, went the extra mile and demolished a church. Only the truly righteous and holy can claim to be so humanitarian that they demolish a church, especially when it's a church built by people fleeing from groups that won't let them have churches.

As it says in Matthew Chapter 4 verse 7: "And the people who did flee from the land of Assyria, and hath no homes, did build a church from all that lay around so that they may seek hope in the word of the Lord, and Jesus did come among them and knock it down with a bulldozer."

It's no wonder the refugees wish they were in Britain, because here the Government would be more subtle and sell the school and church tents to developers, who'd convert them into a block of three-bedroom tents in an estate called Migrant Waters at £600,000 each for Japanese businessmen.

The French government claims the refugees will be housed in containers on lorries provided down the road, but the charity Help Refugees calculates that, even with three in each lorry, they are 2,229 places short for the numbers evicted.

They could do what we all have to do when times are hard and be prepared to cut down a little, but so far the migrants have refused to shrink to half their size so they can squeeze twice as many into a lorry, so that's hardly the fault of the French, is it?

Of course, the last thing this country needs is people like this coming here.

To start with, they're not really refugees. If they'd stayed in Iraq or Somalia or Syria, they'd have been killed, which would have reduced their earnings - which proves they're economic migrants, just trying to get here for financial reasons.

When someone's drifted across the Mediterranean on a pedalo with their family and walked through Macedonia and crawled to Calais and lived in a quagmire called the 'Jungle' until they're gassed by riot police and bundled into a lorry, it's all too obvious the only reason they've come to Europe is for an easy life at our expense.

If I want to be tear-gassed, I have to go and pay for it myself, but they get it for free. We're mugs, we are. Complete mugs.

Belfast Telegraph

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