PARIS — A far-right lawmaker in France came under fire on Thursday after responding to a black lawmaker’s question about migrants stranded at sea by saying, “Let them go back to Africa.”
Grégoire de Fournas of the National Rally made this comment to the National Assembly. The president of the lower house of the French parliament, Yaël Braun-Pivet, then suspended the legislative session.
De Fournas spoke as Martens Bilongo of the left-wing France Unbowed party challenged the centrist government of French President Emmanuel Macron over a maritime rescue boat that carries hundreds of passengers in the Mediterranean Sea and has not received a assigned port.
Braun-Pivet said the comment would be investigated on Friday.
The National Rally is renowned for its strong anti-immigrant rhetoric. Party spokesman Victor Chabert said de Fournas was referring to migrants at sea in his remark on Africa and not, as some French media speculated, to his fellow lawmaker.
Reacting to the event, French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne said “racism has no place in our democracy”.
She said the chamber “should take sanctions” on de Fournas’ remark without specifying what those sanctions might be.
National Rally leader Marine Le Pen lost her bid for the French presidency to Macron for the second time in April.
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