French Roma attacked over false ‘man in van’ kidnap rumours


A series of unprovoked vigilante attacks on France’s Roma community have erupted after false reports spread online about child abductions. But police say the warnings of a “man in a white van” kidnapping children off the streets are “totally unfounded”.

Some 20 people were arrested on Monday night after attacking the Roma community with makeshift weapons. A police chief in one of the suburbs warned officers of “a psychosis that is starting to set in.” Claims of a man in a van abducting children and others – reportedly to fuel prostitution rings or the illegal organ trade – have been circulating online in recent weeks. Sometimes the van is red, or yellow, in a different region, or of Bulgarian or Romanian origin. The reports have spread rapidly on Whatsapp, Snapchat, and other social media networks. But there is no evidence of any of them.(BBC)…[+]