De Fournas suspended from National Assembly for 15 days for racist remark

© Thomas Padilla / MaxPPP

National Rally MP Grégoire de Fournas was suspended from the French parliament on Friday night for 15 days after he made a racist remark during a legislative session.

De Fournas, 37, was heard shouting the words "return to Africa” as Carlos Martens Bilongo was challenging the French government on Thursday about migrants stranded at sea.

Bilongo, who is Black, said he was deeply hurt by the interjection.

Other politicians, including France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, said they were shocked by de Fournas’s remark.

The comments prompted pandemonium in the National Assembly, leading the legislative chamber's president to suspend the session.

Members of the National Assembly’s managing body said on Friday they decided unanimously to give de Fournas the maximum penalty of 15 days.

Due to acoustic issues in the chamber, it was unclear whether de Fournas said Bilongo or the migrants should return to Africa. De Fournas said he was referring to Europe-bound migrants rescued at sea and not to his fellow lawmaker.

“I fully stand by my comments about the anarchic migratory policies of our country,” he tweeted on Friday.

"I feel this sanction of incredible harshness with great injustice," he added. "But respectful of the institution, I submit to it."

Bilongo, a member of the far-left France Unbowed party, took part in a gathering on Friday near the National Assembly called by his party in a show of support.

SOS Racisme denounced de Fournas's comments as the true face of the far-right – that of racism.

Read more on RFI English

Read also:
French lawmaker risks suspension for alleged racism in parliament
Macron's Renaissance party launches major drive to woo paying members
After presidential loss, France's Marine Le Pen to run in legislative polls