‘Civilization talk’ causes French MPs to storm out

‘Civilization talk’ causes French MPs to storm out

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon and his ministers stormed out of parliament in protest Feb. 7 after an opposition legislator appeared to compare Interior Minister Claude Gueant to a Nazi for remarks he made that not all civilizations were equal.

Serge Letchimy, a Socialist ally representing the Caribbean island of Martinique, accused Gueant of trying to woo potential far-right voters, 10 weeks before the presidential election, in remarks made to students at the weekend.

Letchimy said in parliament: “You, Mr. Gueant... you bring us back day after day to those European ideologies which gave birth to the concentration camps.” He then asked: “Mr. Gueant, the Nazi regime, which was so worried about purity, was that a civilization?” That provoked uproar among government ministers and deputies from President Nicolas Sarkozy’s right-wing UMP party, who walked out en masse.
The weekly question time was subsequently suspended. In a statement after the incident, Fillon called on opposition leaders to condemn what he called “an indecent provocation.” “Contrary to what the left’s relativist ideology says, for us all civilizations are not of equal value,” Gueant told a gathering. “Those which defend liberty, equality and fraternity seem to us superior to those which accept tyranny, the subservience of women, social and ethnic hatred,” he said in his speech. He also stressed the need to “protect our civilization.”

Compiled from AFP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.

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