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The French parliament was shaken by the far-right MP’s “go back to Africa” ​​outburst

The French parliament was shaken by the far-right MP's "go back to Africa" ​​outburst
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In an extremely rare move, a far-right French lawmaker was suspended from Parliament on Friday for shouting “Go back to Africa” ​​while a black colleague was speaking about migrants.

The comments, which brought parliament to a standstill on Thursday, sparked outrage over racism and sparked a wave of condemnation.

Carlos Martens Bilongo, a 31-year-old black lawmaker representing a district north of Paris, was addressing the National Assembly or House of Commons about migrants stranded at sea when another MP, Grégoire de Fournas, 37, interrupted him and shouted for someone to “go back to africa!”

Thursday’s outburst rocked the session, not least because the pronouns ‘he’ and ‘she’ are pronounced the same in French, allowing de Fournas’ comment to be intended for his colleague in Parliament. One officer’s jaw dropped. Others got up and started screaming before the leader quickly stopped the session.

Echoing his party’s longstanding anti-immigrant rhetoric, the National Rally, de Fournas later said he was referring to the migrants, not his colleague. But critics found it no less offensive, and many saw it as an insult hurled at an MP in the Chamber.

A Paris-born teacher, Bilongo said in a expression that de Fournas’ explanation did not justify the remark. “Has racism become so commonplace that that phrase has become acceptable?” he wrote.

“I didn’t think I would be insulted in the National Assembly today,” Bilongo said said Reporter. “You have offended me and all people in France who have this color of skin.”

On Friday, MPs voted to suspend de Fournas for 15 days of parliamentary debates and withhold half his allowance for two months. It is only the second time in recent French history that such a disciplinary measure has been imposed.

“This sanction is the strictest that our internal rules provide for,” said Parliament Speaker Yaël Braun-Pivet, calling for “dignity” in future debates.

MPs from French President Emmanuel Macron’s party were quick to condemn the incident, describe it as “scandalous” and pledge not to sit in the House of Commons unless de Fournas received a “heavy sentence”.

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de Fournas said on Friday that he would respect the decision to suspend him. But he criticized the decision as unfair, accusing his opponents of “manipulation” and reiterated his party’s stance against migrant arrivals. He told reporters that his comment about returning to Africa referred to a boat with 234 migrants. The charity that rescued her at sea is attractive to European governments to find a port to disembark from if the weather worsens.

National Rally leader Marine Le Pen who challenged macron in the French elections this year defended de Fournas, who tweeted that the outrage “was caused by our political opponents”.

Her opponents saw her party’s reactions to this week’s parliamentary flare-up as a testament to its xenophobic roots as it seeks to bring the far right into mainstream politics.

Le Pen led her party to its best-ever performance in June’s general election, working to moderate its image and focusing on issues like that rising cost of living and record inflation in Europe. Those gains and Macron’s loss of an absolute majority in parliament complicate his second term in office at a time when voters are increasingly divided.

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