French parliament shocked by far-right MP’s “back to Africa” ​​outburst

French parliament shocked by far-right MP’s “back to Africa” ​​outburst


In an extremely rare move, a far-right French lawmaker was expelled from parliament on Friday for shouting “go back to Africa” ​​as a black colleague spoke about migrants.

The announcement, which brought parliament to a standstill on Thursday, sparked outrage and condemnation of racism.

Carlos Martens Bilongo, a 31-year-old black MP who represents a district north of Paris, was speaking in the National Assembly, or lower house, about migrants stranded at sea when another member of parliament, Grégoire de Furnas, 37, interrupted. to him and yelled that someone should “go back to Africa”.

Thursday’s outburst roiled the session, particularly because the pronouns “he” and “they” are pronounced the same in French, making it possible that de Furnas’s comment might have been intended for a fellow lawmaker. An official’s jaw dropped. Others rose to their feet and began shouting before the leader of the congregation quickly adjourned the meeting.

Sticking to the long-standing anti-immigration rhetoric of his party, the National Rally, de Furnas later said he was referring to migrants, not his colleague. But critics found it no less offensive, and many saw it as an insult hurled at a member of parliament in the legislative chamber.

Paris-born teacher Bilongo said a statement that the explanation of de Furnas does not justify the remark. “Has racism become so commonplace that the expression has become acceptable?” he wrote:

“I didn’t think that they would insult me ​​today in the National Assembly,” Bilongo told journalists. “They insulted me and everyone in France who has this skin color.”

On Friday, members of parliament approved suspending de Furnas from parliamentary debates for 15 days and delaying half of his allowance for two months. It is only the second time in the recent history of France that such a disciplinary measure is adopted.

“This sanction is the most severe one provided by our internal regulations,” said Yael Brown-Pivet, Speaker of the Parliament, calling for “dignity” to be shown in further discussions.

Lawmakers of the French President Emmanuel Macron’s party hastened to condemn the incident. describing it as “scandalous” and collateral not to sit in the lower house unless de Furnas received a “heavy penalty”.

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De Furnas said Friday that he would respect the decision to suspend him. But he criticized the decision as unfair. accuser his opponents of “manipulation” and reaffirming his party’s stance against the arrival of migrants. He told reporters that his comment about returning to Africa was about a a boat transporting 234 migrants. It is the aid agency that rescued them at sea attractive European governments to find a port due to bad weather.

National Rally leader Marine Le Pen, who challenged Macro In this year’s French elections. defended de Furnas tweeted that the outrage was “created by our political opponents”.

His opponents see his party’s reactions to the outbreak in parliament this week as evidence of his xenophobic roots as he seeks to bring the far right into mainstream politics.

Le Pen led her party to its best ever results in June’s legislative elections, working to soften her image and focusing on issues such as: increasing the cost of living and record inflation in Europe. Those gains and Macron’s loss of an outright majority in parliament complicate his second term at a time when voters are increasingly divided.

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