French Lawmaker suspended for making ‘Go Back To Africa’ Racist comment in Parliament
France’s National Assembly has suspended a far-right lawmaker, Gregoire de Fournas, from parliament for two weeks for a racist outburst after he shouted “Go back to Africa” when a black member of the lower house was speaking about stranded migrants, Deutsche Welle has reported.
It was learnt that the Member of the Parliament (MP) was issued a 15-day suspension for his racist comment.
The parliament also sanctioned Gregoire de Fournas of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally (RN) party with a cut of half his compensation for two months.
While ordering him to leave the parliament, National Assembly Speaker Yael Braun-Pivet said, “We must not fragilise our democracy.”
It was just the second occasion in the history of France’s Fifth Republic, formed in 1958, that a politician had gotten such a reprimand.
The far-right MP later denied he was addressing leftist Carlos Martens Bilongo of the France Unbowed party, saying Thursday’s outburst was directed at migrants stranded on a rescue ship. In French, the words “he,” “they” and “it” are pronounced identically.
The black member of the lower house, Bilongo was questioning the government over its approach to the people on the stranded rescue boat when the comment was made. The vessel is carrying hundreds of passengers in the Mediterranean Sea and NGOs have urged the French government to intervene with a solution.
De Fournas continued to stress he wasn’t targeting his colleague but the migrants at sea.
“I fully stand by my comments about the anarchic migratory policies of our country,” he tweeted on Friday.
On Friday, Bilongo said the comment left him “deeply hurt.”
“I’m torn between joy and sadness,” the AP news agency quoted him as saying. “Because I received many messages of support overnight … because I see all these faces here showing solidarity with me.”
Bilongo took part in protests held outside the National Assembly ahead of Friday’s session.
Meanwhile, le Fournas’ comment generated a lot of controversies.
President Emmanuel Macron and Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin both expressed surprise at the incident.
French anti-racism groups condemned the comment regardless of the target. The group SOS Racisme described it as “the true face of the far-right: that of racism.”
The Movement against Racism and for Friendship between People also said the comment revealed the essence of the RN’s “deeply racist and xenophobic” nature despite efforts to normalize the party.
Le Pen’s RN party has been accused of adopting racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-Islamic sentiments in the past, notably while led by her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen. Although, in recent years, Marie Le Pen has attempted to modify her party’s tough stance on immigration in order to attract more voters.