Oct. 20 - A schoolgirl whose deportation from France ignited protests rejects an offer to return to complete her studies. Paul Chapman reports.
The deportation of 15-year-old Leonarda Dibrani from France to Kosovo ignited an outcry and mass student protests. Dibrani, whose family entered France illegally in 2009, was ordered off a school bus by police and sent to her father's native country. Now French President Francois Hollande, while defending the deportation of Dibrani and her family, says she can return to finish her studies. (SOUNDBITE)(French) FRENCH PRESIDENT FRANCOIS HOLLANDE SAYING: "In view of the circumstances, if she requests so and wants to continue her education in France, she and only she would be welcomed." Dibrani, who doesn't speak Albanian and says Kosovo is not her home, says she can't go back to France alone. (SOUNDBITE)(French) DEPORTED SCHOOLGIRL LEONARDA DIBRANI SAYING: "I don't want to go without my family because I want to stay with them, and especially her. We're tied together. She's my dear sister, I can't leave her behind here." The French president's defending the family's deportation because they'd exhausted all channels for asylum. His gesture to let Dibrani return alone appeared designed to show clemency without undermining his interior minister or offering fodder to the far-right Far-right support ahead of next year's municipal and European elections has been bolstered by rising frustration over illegal migration and Roma camps on the outskirts of French cities.