French mayor under fire over Nazi words

French mayor under fire over Nazi words

PARIS - Agence France-Presse
French mayor under fire over Nazi words

MP Bourdouleix allegedly said ‘Hitler may not have killed enough Roma.’ AFP photo

France’s interior minister called yesterday for a lawmaker to be “severely punished” after a journalist recorded him allegedly saying Hitler may not have killed enough Roma.

Gilles Bourdouleix, an MP and mayor of the western town of Cholet, reportedly muttered the words on July 21 as he confronted members of the travelling community who had illegally set up camp, according to a recording posted on the site of regional daily Courrier de l’Ouest. “Maybe Hitler did not kill enough,” Bourdouleix is heard saying after the Roma had reportedly given him the Nazi salute. Bourdouleix, who is a member of the lower house National Assembly with the centrist UDI party, said his comments were taken out of context and alleged the recording was tampered with.

Risk of ‘kicking out’

Bourdouleix’s comments have caused an uproar. Interior Minister Manuel Valls described them yesterday as “unacceptable” and called for the lawmaker to be “very severely punished by law.”

“These comments are a defense of crimes committed in the Second World War, a defense of Nazism and coming from a mayor, from a member of parliament, it’s completely intolerable,” he said on TV channel i-TELE.

The case has already been referred to public prosecutors who will examine whether his comments constitute a “defense of crimes against humanity,” said authorities in Maine-et-Loire, the department where Cholet is located. Bourdouleix also risks being kicked out of his UDI party, whose executive committee meets on tomorrow.

France has a policy of systematically dismantling illegal camps and repatriating Roma of Bulgarian and Romanian nationality - the legality of which has been questioned by the European Union, the United Nations’ human rights arm and other watchdogs.