⛔️ A Racist Attack in the Assembly
Thursday's scenes in the Assemblée Nationale shocked many, and the racist attack on Carlos Marten BIlongo drew anger from all sides of the political spectrum
Stepping up to the podium during a parliamentary session of questions directed towards the governments, Carlos Marten Bilongo (LFI / NUPES) was giving an intervention regarding the ‘drama surrounding illegal immigration’, questioning the government on what it was doing to deal with the ongoing issues regarding topic.
Unfortunately, before he could get to the meat of his question for the government, Grégoire de Fournas (RN), decided that it was more important to yell out what may have been one of two things: Either “they should go back to Africa” or that deputy Bilongo “should go back to Africa”.
The immediate reaction was nothing short of carnage, with the majority of the deputies present loudly protesting the racist outburst, while the Rassemblement National attempted to defend their colleague, and say that his words were being twisted.
Almost immediately, the President of the National Assembly, Yaël Braun-Pivet, was forced to stop the session, “given the seriousness of the facts" and "legitimate emotion" that the parliamentarians were dealing with., as well as the need for the bureau of the assembly to meet and decide on sanctions for the offending deputy. An extremely rare occurrence.
Reacting with Dignity, Carlos Martens Bilongo was clear about his thoughts of the outburst,.
"Today, I was sent back to my skin color. I was born in France, I am a French deputy…We see the real face of the National Rally. It's shameful (...) I thank all the deputies who joined me”
What was the reaction from the other parties?
The reaction across the parties was strong, with condemnation of the racism unquestioned across the leadership, such as Renaissance leader Stéphane Séjourné:
“What happened this afternoon is exceptionally serious: it involves exceptional sanctions. No one can put on the tricolor scarf after having made such remarks: Marine Le Pen must demand his resignation without delay. Unwavering support for @BilongoCarlos.”
Eric Ciotti, the potential leader of Les Républicains who is currently campaigning for election, likewise criticised the “scandalous” statement:
“I strongly condemn the extremely serious remarks made today by a deputy in the hemicycle of our assembly. Scandalous from a representative of the Republic.”
Olivier Faure, First secretary of the Parti Socialiste, pointed out that the true “face” of Le Pen’s party had resurfaced:
“When the varnish of the RN cracks, it is always the same face which reappears. That of racism. Beneath the suit and tie still oozes far-right poison. Support and friendships to @BilongoCarlos #DirectAN”
President Emmanuel Macron, for his part, was said to have been shocked, according to his entourage:
"The president is shocked by these words which in the hemicycle as outside the hemicycle are intolerable…[he gives his] support to the insulted parliamentarian”
What did the RN have to say?
Naturally, with a party congress on the way and a vote on the future leader of their party, the party was in fine form and ready to defend their guy.
For his part, de Fournas doesn’t seem to believe that he has done anything wrong, and in an interview with BFM TV, his statement has been twisted:
“[I] did not speak [of Carlos Martens Bilongo, but] of the boat smuggler of migrants…In reality, there was nothing problematic. It is in our program, the fact of stopping the migratory floodgates” he explained, denouncing “a manipulation” by La France Insoumise, who according to him, “seeks to distort [his] remarks to make [his] remarks disgusting”
He later made a similar defence on Twitter, putting the scandal down to a manipulation by the Insoumises:
“Shameful manipulation by LFI which hijacks my remarks. When my colleague MP from LFI mentions SOS Méditerranée, I fully assume that I answered “that they are going back to Africa”. My answer was about the boat and the migrants, obviously not my colleague.”
Marine le Pen jumped in to support her MP, arguing that her opposition were playing games with “crude” controversies:
“Grégoire de Fournas obviously spoke of the migrants transported in boats by the NGOs mentioned by our colleague in his question to the government. The controversy created by our political adversaries is crude and will not deceive the French.”
Her heir presumptive did very similar, flipping the script and decrying an “alliance of extreme dishonesty” between La France Insoumise and Elizabeth Borne’s government:
“The deputy @gdefournas mentioned the return of migrant boats to African ports, as confirmed by the ushers of the National Assembly. The alliance of extreme dishonesty between rebellious France and the government is pitiful and will not deceive anyone.”
The office of the assembly - bringing together the president, the six vice-presidents, the three quaestors and the twelve secretaries - will meet at 14h30 today to decide on greater sanctions, and will then pronounce what the sanctions will be, which may be far harsher than the RN expects.
However, the big impact will be the damage to Le Pen’s attempts to rehabilitate and make respectable her party, and who will now have to compete with the overwhelming evidence of a racist mentality within at least as portion of her party, which will provide plenty of ammunition for her opponents.
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