Racism in French Parliament
A rightwing lawmaker in France caused quite an uproar as he yelled racist comments “Go back to Africa” during a Black lawmaker’s comments while a parliamentary session was being broadcast to the public on Thursday.
Grégoire de Fournas, parliamentary representative from the National Rally (RN) party, interrupted lawmaker Carlos Martens Bilongo, a representative from the far left party France Unbowed (LFI) during a session of the lower house of the parliament, the National Assembly. Bilongo was calling on the government of France to cooperate with other European Union nations, specially Italy and its newly elected far right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, for extending assistance to several hundred African migrants who have been rescued from the Mediterranean sea. This was the moment when de Fournas shouted “Go back to Africa.”
The shout has been called as a racist personal attack by Bilongo and his party. However, de Fournas’ party has argued that the comment was actually meant for the migrants that were under discussion. “Today, some people once again put my skin color at the center of a debate. I’m born in France and I am a French lawmaker and I didn’t think that today I will be insulted [like this] at the National Assembly,” Bilongo told reporters after the incident.
Mathilde Panot, leader of the far left France Unbowed group at the National Assembly, has expulsion of de Fournas. “Racists like him have no place in our parliament,” Panot tweeted.
In his defense, de Fournas said that that he was referring to migrants. He tweeted that the France Unbowed had “hijacked his words in a disgraceful manipulation.” He said in the tweet, “My answer concerned the boat and the migrants, obviously not my colleague.”
Marine Le Pen, leader of the far right RN’s party group at the French lower house has voiced support for de Fournas. “Grégoire de Fournas obviously spoke about the migrants transported in boats by the NGOs that our colleague mentioned in his question to the government. The polemic created by our political opponents is crude and will not deceive the French,” she wrote.
On Friday, the French Parliament is going to hold a meeting for deciding on punishment for de Fournas.