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04/27/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

'Racist' French Security Notice Offends Romanians

The French state railway network has apologized for a notice that appeared to single out Romanians over a series of baggage thefts.

The notice was posted in trains running in the southwest area of France. It roughly translated as: "Over the past few weeks there have been worries with Romanians. Indeed, a number of bag thefts have been noted. We ask you to redouble your vigilance. Besides, all sightings of Romanians must be reported."

The signs did not attract attention until Mouloud Akkouche, a local writer traveling from Foix to Toulouse, noticed the sign and complained. Akkouche originally thought the signs were a prank.

The signs have since created an uproar and allegations of racism against the French railway network SNCF. Roumanophilie, a website devoted to Romanians in France, called the signs "anti-Romanian racism." A French trade union, Sud-Rail, also denounced the note as racist.

The sign is likely to heighten tensions between Western Europe and Romania. French websites have seen an influx of anti-Romanian sentiment after the incident, with one person commenting, "Everyone knows that they send children to steal from tourists and travelers."

SNCF has apologized, stating that the notice was a result of one member of staff and that they will be responding with a full investigation. A spokesperson said that no one had rung the number listed to report Romanians.

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