Far-right MP shouts ‘go back to Africa’ at black rival in French parliament during migration debate | World News


The lower house of the French parliament was suspended on Thursday after a far-right MP shouted “go back to Africa” at a black politician.

Carlos Martens Bilongo had been challenging the centrist government over a maritime rescue boat carrying hundreds of passengers in the Mediterranean that has not received an assigned port.

The outburst came from Gregoire de Fournas, a 37-year-old member of Marine Le Pen’s National Rally, who said later that his words were not aimed at Mr Martens Bilongo, but at migrants trying to reach Europe by sea.

Other MPs had shouted angrily at him and each other after he had spoken.

Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said: “There is no room for racism in our democracy.

“The Bureau of the National Assembly will convene and should decide on the necessary sanction.”

Stephane Sejourne, who leads President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party, called for Mr de Fournas to resign, while the left-wing Nupes alliance said he should be expelled.

“The National Rally has shown its true face today,” Nupes said in a statement.

“This racist slur is characteristic of the far-right: stigmatise according to the colour of your skin, divide the French people.”

Carlos Martens Bilongo was questioning the French government's migration policy when another MP shouted "Go back to Africa"

But Ms Le Pen insisted that her colleague said nothing wrong, adding that he “obviously spoke about the migrants transported in boats.

“The controversy created by our political opponents… will not deceive the French.”

Mr Martens Bilongo, a 31-year-old who was a teacher and activist before entering politics, responded to the incident by saying: “I asked a question to the government, as is done every week in the Assembly.

“Except that I couldn’t get to the end of my question, because a deputy from the National Rally interrupted me by shouting at me ‘Go back to Africa!’

“I didn’t think I would ever hear these words in the National Assembly. But racism always catches up, even in the most prestigious places of the republic.”

The French lower house after one MP apparently told another to "go back to Africa"

The French-born politician said that even if the words were aimed at the migrants rather than him, they would still have been “unjustifiable”, adding: “Has racism become so commonplace that this sentence has become acceptable?”

“This episode reminds us of what the far-right is in France: the contempt for institutions and the detestation of millions of our French compatriots.

“This Thursday, I had invited children from my constituency to the Assembly so that they could attend my question to the government, with a certain pride.

“I’m thinking about them. It is for them that I will continue to exercise my mandate, without ever having to justify myself on the colour of my skin.

“And so that finally, they can live free of the racism that, by dint of complacency, is progressing in this country.”


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