French parliament halted by lawmaker’s shout “Go back to Africa” | CNN

A far-right French lawmaker caused an uproar by shouting “go back to Africa” ​​during a parliamentary session broadcast to the public on Thursday during comments by a black lawmaker.

National Rally (RN) party parliamentary representative Grégoire de Fornas interrupts Carlos Martens Bilongo, a representative of the far-left France Unbowed (LFI) party, during a session of the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament.

Bilongo was calling on the French government to cooperate with EU counties – particularly Italy and its newly elected far-right Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni – to help hundreds of African migrants rescued from the Mediterranean.

De Fornas interrupted, shouting “Go back to Africa”.

There was immediate chaos in the chamber led by National Assembly Speaker Yael Braun-Pivet and the session was temporarily adjourned.

Bilongo and his party have described the outcry as a racist personal attack, although de Fornas’s party has argued that the intervention was actually aimed at the migrants in question.

“Today some people have once again put my skin color at the center of controversy. I was born in France and I am a French MP and I did not expect to be insulted today [like this] in the National Assembly,” Bilongo told reporters after the incident.

Mathilde Panot, leader of the far-left France Unbowed group in the National Assembly, has called for De Fournas to face the harshest penalty for a French MP – expulsion. “Racists like him have no place in our parliament,” Panot tweeted.

De Fournas said he was referring to migrants and tweeted that France Unbod had “hijacked” his words in a “shameful manipulation”.

“My reply was related to boats and migrants, not my colleagues of course,” he tweeted.

According to French phonological rules, there is little audible difference between the sentences “he should go back to Africa” ​​and “he should go back to Africa”, as expressed by de Fornas.

Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right RN party group in the French lower house, expressed her support for de Fournas in a tweet.

“Grégoire de Fournas clearly spoke about people being evacuated by boat by NGOs which our colleague referred to in a question to the government. The debate created by our political opponents is cruel and will not deceive the French people,” she wrote.

Prime Minister Elizabeth Bourne told reporters after the convention that “racism has no place in our democracy.”

Parliament will meet on Friday to decide on De Fornas’ sentence. According to CNN affiliate BFMTV, Communist lawmaker Maxime Gremetz was punished once during the French Fifth Republic for disrupting a parliamentary session in 2011, the harshest punishment for a member of parliament, expulsion.

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