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French MP faces legal action for Hitler Roma remark

Video by Shona BHATTACHARYYA

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-07-25

French MP Gilles Bourdouleix may face legal action after he reportedly said that Hitler "didn't kill enough" of the Roma people. Interior Minister Manuel Valls has asked for Bourdouleix to be prosecuted for "praising crimes against humanity".

A French MP may be prosecuted for "praising crimes against humanity" after he was quoted as saying that Hitler "didn't kill enough" of the Roma people.

Gilles Bourdouleix, a representative of the centrist party l'Union des Démocrates et Indépendants (UDI) for the town of Cholet, in Maine-et-Loire, resigned from his party Wednesday after his remarks were published on the "Courrieur de l’Ouest" (Western Courrier) website.

The incident has sparked fierce reactions from French political figures.

French Interior Minister Manuel Valls has called for Bourdouleix to be “heavily” sanctioned, saying his comments were "praise for the crimes of World War Two, it's praise for Nazis, and coming from a mayor it's unbearable".

At Valls's request, the local prefect's office has moved to file a lawsuit against Bourdouleix for "praising crimes against humanity", police said.

President of the UDI, Jean-Louis Borloo said that “nothing can justify going as far” as his party colleague did.

Mr Bourdouleix claimed his comments were taken out of context. 

"I mumbled something like, 'If it was Hitler he would have killed them here', meaning, 'Thank goodness I'm not Hitler and so there's no reason to call me Hitler'," he told BFM news TV. "This is shameful score-settling which aims to smear me."

He has made a defamation complaint against the "Courrier", whose editor has stood by the publication’s journalistic integrity.

Bourdouleix’s comments have become embroiled in a larger debate on Roma communities, in the light of recent derogatory remarks by the UMP deputy mayor of Nice as well as far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who labelled the Roma community as "smelly" and "rash inducing". 

France numbers about 250,000-300,000 itinerant Roma, mostly French citizens. They have a special status that allows them to temporarily park their mobile homes in designated open-air areas with power and water hook-ups during the summer.
 

 

Date created : 2013-07-23

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