‘Back to Africa’: French MP sparks outrage in parliament


French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne urged the meeting to punish Gregoire de Fournas for his words to a black colleague, while apologizing for a “misunderstanding”.

A session in the French parliament was thrown into turmoil after a far-right lawmaker was accused of yelling “back to Africa” ​​at a black colleague who asked a question about the arrival of migrants.

Member of Parliament Carlos Martens Bilongo of the left-wing party France Unbowed questioned the government about a maritime lifeboat carrying hundreds of passengers in the Mediterranean, and has not been given a designated port to take them to.

Charities have appealed to the French government to take them in or help them find a solution.

Bilongo was interrupted by Gregoire de Fournas, a newly elected member of the far-right, anti-immigration National Rally (RN), who said he said, “They need to get back to Africa.”

The speaker of the lower house of the French parliament, Yaël Braun-Pivet, then adjourned the legislative session and later said the comment would be investigated.

The comment sparked criticism and condemnation for alleging that de Fournas may have directly attacked Bilongo with his words, since in the French language, the pronouns “he” and “she” are pronounced the same.

De Fournas defended his remark, accusing opponents of “manipulation”, and his party also denied any personal attack on Bilongo. De Fournas later apologized to Bilongo for “the misunderstanding my comments caused”.

He “spoke clearly about the migrants being transported in boats by the NGOs,” National Rally leader Marine Le Pen tweeted. “The controversy created by our political opponents… will not deceive the French.”

However, Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne urged the meeting to approve the far-right MP, saying “racism has no place in our democracy”.

Bilongo called the comment “embarrassing”.

“Today I was sent back to my skin color. I was born in France. I am a French delegate,” he said.

‘Heavy punishment’

Stephane Sejourne, who leads President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party, said De Fournas should resign, and the left-wing Nupes alliance said he should be expelled.

A parliamentary committee will meet on Friday to discuss the incident, which could punish De Fournas with a temporary ban from the meeting.

Macron’s centrist Renaissance party will refuse to attend further sessions unless the council imposes a “severe punishment”, his parliamentary vice president Sylvain Maillard said on Twitter.

In this year’s presidential election, Le Pen challenged Macron, resulting in her party’s best-ever election performance, with 89 seats for MPs.

Over the years, Le Pen has made significant strides in cleaning up her party’s image and convincing voters. to govern.

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