Roma 101: Five questions answered about Europe's vilified minority

Recent cases of alleged child abduction in Greece and Ireland have brought new attention to stereotypes about the Roma, as well as their ability to integrate into society.

What is their legal status in Europe?

It varies across the Continent and depends on their country of origin. In general, as European citizens, the Roma have the right to enter any country in Europe with a passport or valid identity card, but in some countries they must obtain work or study visas or else leave after 90 days. In practice, they often do not, putting them at the center of political controversy.

France's government has been under fire from human rights groups for clearing Roma camps. France's Interior minister said most Roma are incapable of integrating into society. His controversial words are supported by public opinion, especially as Romania and Bulgaria are set to become members of the passport-free Schengen group next year (work-visa requirements for these two countries are also to be lifted under EU membership rules in January in France). On the other hand, in October, protests by youths erupted throughout France after a Roma high-schooler was detained while on a class trip and deported with her family to Kosovo.

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