TENS of thousands of French youth walked out of their classes and lectures and joined marches on Thursday protesting over the removal of two foreign students from France.
At least 20 secondary schools in Paris were closed by the walkout.
A rally took place between the city’s Bastille and Nation squares and there were also school walkouts in Marseille, Lyon and Rouen.
Anger in France erupted after one of the school students, Leonarda Dibrani, 15, was removed from a school bus to be expelled along with her family earlier this month.
They had been living in the eastern region of Doubs for several years.
There is also anger over the removal of Khatchik Kachatryan, a 19-year-old student in Paris who was expelled on Saturday to Armenia after reportedly being arrested.
Protesters have demanded the resignation of Interior Minister Manuel Valls, who has defended the expulsions and has been carrying out a tough policy towards Roma immigrants in general.
The row has created a crisis within the government of ‘Socialist’ President Francois Hollande.
Outside one school in central Paris, the Lycee Charlemagne, wheelie bins were used to block the entrance. A banner read ‘Jotters not ID papers’.
One schoolgirl, named as Amelie, said: ‘We got organised on Facebook yesterday evening – it was super easy!’
Leonarda and her family have been given a flat and a small allowance in the Kosovo city of Mitrovica, where they have been speaking to French journalists about the shock of being sent to a region where they are strangers, unable to speak Albanian.
A review of the case has been ordered in France, along with an investigation into the police response. Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has said the family will be allowed to return if ‘any fault is found’ with the expulsion order.
Students protested the eviction of both Kachatryan and Dibrani.
‘Bring back Khatchik and Leonarda, they belong here,’ the marching pupils chanted, holding up signs calling for Valls to resign and urging solidarity.
For her part, Dibrani has spoken out in multiple media interviews from Mitrovica asking to come back to France to continue her schooling.