KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, KOSOVO – The family of a Gypsy schoolgirl whose deportation from France caused an outcry has been attacked in Kosovo, apparently over a private matter unrelated to their controversial French expulsion, police said.
Leonarda Dibrani, 15, and her family were confronted as they were walking in Kosovska Mitrovica, where they have been living since they were forced to leave France earlier this month.
The girl’s mother, Xhemaili, was slapped and taken to a hospital, but her injuries were not serious, a police source who requested anonymity said.
“The incident occurred between two families, the Dibranis and the Bislimis,” police Capt. Ahmet Gjosha said.
“It turned out that Mr. Bislimi was Xhemaili Dibrani’s husband 25 years ago and we assume that this fact sparked the incident.”
The Bislimi family was repatriated from Switzerland four months ago, he added.
Police said they are taking the incident very seriously. Four people have been arrested, and a probe has been launched.
Shortly after the incident, a police officer said that “it shows that the Dibranis are not safe here.”
The deportation of Leonarda and her family from France after being denied asylum had touched off mass student protests around the country, demanding that the Dibranis be allowed to return.
On Saturday, French President Francois Hollande said Leonarda could come back to France to continue her schooling, but without her family — an offer the teenager immediately refused.
Hollande has been attacked from all sides for allegedly misusing his position and acting “emotionally” in the case, ceding more ground to ambitious Interior Minister Manuel Valls.
French media on Sunday let rip at Hollande, with the website of the left-wing Liberation newspaper describing his move as “the most improbable of all scenarios” and the weekly Journal du Dimanche calling it “as bizarre as it is incomprehensible.”
Politician Francois Bayrou, a centrist heavyweight who backed Hollande in the second round of presidential elections in 2012, weighed in to say a head of state “should not confuse emotion and the duty of government.”
On Sunday, the Dibranis renewed their plea to be allowed back into France, where they had lived for four years.
Leonarda said the incident showed “why I did not accept to return alone to France.
“Here we are not free. They attacked us because Kosovo is a foreign country for us,” she said.
In an interview Thursday, the father, Resat Dibrani, said he was the only one born in Kosovo, a former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008. His wife and five of his six children, including Leonarda, were born in Italy.
He said he had lied about his family’s Kosovo origins to have a better chance of obtaining asylum.