Wednesday, December 7

A far-right deputy launches a racist outburst while a black lawmaker was speaking in the French Parliament

An incident has shaken the French National Assembly on Thursday when, during a debate on immigration, a far-right deputy has launched a racist cry that has been interpreted by many members of the chamber as a comment against a black legislator.

The deputy who was speaking at the time was Carlos Mertens Bilongo, a member of the left-wing party La Francia Insumisa (LFI), who drew attention to the situation of around a thousand people rescued in the Mediterranean by three rescue ships from other so many NGOs, for which landing ports are being sought –unsuccessfully so far.

Then the cry “let them go back to Africa” or “let them go back to Africa” (the French pronunciation is almost identical) has sounded, and the LFI deputies have considered that the singular had been used to offend their colleague.

This has generated a verbal tirade that has forced the president of the Assembly, Yaël Braun-Pivot, to suspend the session.


“It’s really sad… to be insulted. It is shameful”, Mertens lamented in a statement to the press at the exit of the plenary session of the Lower House.

“There is no room for racism in a democracy,” said the Prime Minister, Élisabeth Borne, who has requested that the procedure be initiated to sanction and even withdraw the act of deputy from the author of the comment, Gregoire de Fournas.

The parliamentarian, who is one of the 89 deputies of the National Association (RN, Marine Le Pen’s party), has assured in other statements that what he has said is “that they return to Africa”, and has accused the deputies of LFI to “manipulate” the comment. De Fournas has insisted that his comment did not refer to Mertens, but to “immigrants from the boats”, and has accused the LFI deputies of seeking “sterile polemics”.