French MP causes uproar in parliament after shouting racial slur at colleague

A rightwing French MP caused an uproar in the country’s parliament after shouting a racial slur at a lawmaker. The representative, Grégoire de Fournas, interrupted Carlos Martens Bilongo, a far-left representative for the party France Unbowed, shouting “Go back to Africa.”

Bilongo was reportedly calling on the French government to cooperate with EU countries to assist hundreds of African migrants that were rescued from the Mediterranean Sea.

After the slur was shouted, the President of the National Assembly temporarily suspended the session as chaos ensued. Bilongo says the comment was a racist, personal attack, but de Fournas’ party says the comment was intended for the migrants that were being discussed.

“Today, some people once again put my skin colour at the centre 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.”

De Fournas also said that France Unbowed had “hijacked” his words in a “disgraceful manipulation.”

“My answer concerned the boat and the migrants, obviously not my colleague.”

According to CNN, Mathilde Panot, the leader of the France Unbowed group, says that de Fournas should face expulsion.

“Racists like him have no place in our parliament.”

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne also echoed Panot’s feelings by saying that “racism has no place in our democracy.”

But, Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right RN’s party group at the French lower house, argued in favour of de Fournas in a tweet.

“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.”

As French phonetic rules deem that there are little audible differences between the sentences, “He should go back to Africa” and “They should go back to Africa,” the back-and-forth banter surrounding the statement has spurred even more confusion.

For now, the parliament will hold a meeting today to decide on a punishment for de Fournas.

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Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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