It isn’t just Australia treating asylum seekers as criminals to be exploited for political gain:
A video showing French police dragging immigrant women and children away from a protest squat has sharpened accusations that President Nicolas Sarkozy has made a cynical turn towards the authoritarian right.
Although police insist that the disturbing footage is misleading, the film of the apparently brutal arrests north of Paris last month coincides with a noisy campaign by the floundering Mr Sarkozy to revive his image as a politician tough on crime and immigration.
In the video, posted on YouTube, DailyMotion and other sites, a pregnant African woman is seen screaming as she is dragged away by police. Another woman, a baby strapped to her back, is seen being dragged along the ground by police officers.
The film was shot on 21 July at La Courneuve when police broke up a demonstration by 150 people, mostly African immigrant women, protesting against their eviction from illegal squats in a council tower block.
Although the incident passed off without much reaction at the time, homeless and immigrant support groups have used the footage to draw attention to what they say is a more violent approach – and a sense of Sarkozy-inspired immunity – among some French police officers.