The French parliament descended into chaos after a far-right lawmaker shouted “They should go back to Africa” when his Black colleague started speaking about immigration during the session.
Grégoire de Fournas, the parliamentary representative from the National Rally (RN) party, was censured by the speaker of the National Assembly, the lower house of parliament, after he interrupted Carlos Martens Bilongo, a representative from the far-left party France Unbowed (LFI).
The incident happened when Bilongo was questioning the French government about a request by the SOS Méditerranée non-governmental organisation for help in finding a port for 234 migrants rescued at sea in recent days.
After de Fournas made the remark, Speaker Yael Braun-Pivet demanded to know who had spoken. Then, as MPs chanted “Out! Out! Out!”, she suspended the session, saying, “This is not possible”, reports BBC.
The Parliament would be convened again on Friday to decide “necessary sanction” against de Fournas.
Bilongo later condemned his fellow lawmaker’s remarks while speaking to reporters, saying, “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.”
De Fournas clarified that his words were taken out of context as he was speaking about the “boat transporting migrants to Europe” and later sought forgiveness from LFI MP for “the misunderstanding” his comments had caused and if he had been hurt by them.
“Grégoire de Fournas obviously spoke about the migrants transported in boats by the NGOs that our colleague mentioned in his question to the government. The polemic created by our political opponents is crude and will not deceive the French,” she said.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne told reports after the session that “racism has no place in our democracy.”