The French parliament is investigating a possible racist comment from a member of the far-right National Rally party Gregoire de Fournas, according to NBC News. National Rally is supposedly known for its strong anti-immigrant stances. De Fournas is threatened with temporary suspension from the house and a possible loss of pay if found guilty.
The interior minister Gérald Darmanin has already called on De Fournas to resign.
From The Guardian:
I am extremely shocked by what happened in the Assemblée Nationale. I’ve been in the house for 15 years in one way or another and it’s the first time I’ve heard anything so disgraceful,” Darmanin told the news channel BFMTV.
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This outburst occurred when a black member of the far-left La France Insoumise (LFI), Carlos Martens Bilongo, spoke about the French Government’s reluctance to work with other European countries to assist African migrants who were rescued at the Mediterranean Sea. They have not received an assigned port in France to go to.
De Fournas then interrupted, shouting, “go back to Africa.” There was some question if De Fournas said “he” or “they.” That will be a point of contention as the investigation progresses. Parliamentary transcribers said their notes showed the phrase De Fournas used was “he should go back to Africa.” The president of the lower house of the French Parliament, Yaël Braun-Pivet, immediately stopped proceedings.
Bilongo and the LFI believe this is a personal racist attack. De Fornas and the National Rally contend they were referring to the migrants with the comment. Bilongo spoke about the incident after the proceedings were suspended.
“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.