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Canadian skinheads take aim at Gypsy immigrants

skinheads march August 27, 1997
Web posted at: 10:26 p.m. EDT (0226 GMT)

TORONTO (CNN) -- Carrying Canadian flags and holding signs reading "Honk if you hate Gypsies," anti-immigrant skinheads took to the streets of Toronto Wednesday demanding that Gypsies who have come to Canada from the Czech Republic be returned home.

The backlash comes as Canadian immigration officials say there has been a steady increase in Gypsies seeking asylum.

Skinhead protest
video icon 799K/19 sec. QuickTime movie

The exodus became more pronounced last month after Czech television aired a documentary depicting Canada as a haven for Gypsies and wrongly suggesting that they would be given immediate housing and financial help in Canada.


Gypsies in the Czech Republic claim they are victimized there by police and skinhead groups. They also say they are discriminated against in employment and even banned from entering some shops and restaurants.

About 150 Gypsy families have arrived in Canada in the past two weeks, and local shelter operators say Gypsies now make up about 20 percent of the 2,000 families housed in Toronto-area hostels. The immigrants are beginning to put a strain on the city's shelters.

Immigration officials have begun to perform extensive background checks on all new arrivals in an attempt to stem the tide.


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