• France's news in English
 

'Concentrate' Roma in 'camps': far-right runner

Published: 04 Mar 2014 13:26 GMT+01:00

In a blog posting, the top candidate on the National Front’s electoral list in Paris’s posh 6th arrondissement lashed out at the presence of Roma people in his district and offered up a solution that has caused outrage among anti-racism campaigners.

Paul-Marie Coûteaux, a candidate for Marine Le Pen's "FN-Rassemblement Blue Marine" party, wrote in his February 19th post: “But what can the Minister of the Interior do--apart from concentrating these foreign people in camps--where life would undoubtedly be so below what they counted on that they would prefer to flee such inhospitable territory?”

The comments were naturally seized upon by ant-racism campaigners in a country which has often been criticized for its policy of mass deportations of Roma, which reached record levels last year.

In a statement SOS Racism denounced "Coûteaux's "vile words" and announced it would press charges of racism in the coming days "in light of the severity and wretchedness of this anti-republican text." 

His words also provoked outrage among Twitter users. "Apart from this the National Front are not racist hey? Paul-Marie Coûteaux wants to replay the night of the long knives," wrote one of the many tweeters who compared his words to Hitler's policies.

 

After the fallout Coûteaux tried to explain the comments when reached by AFP.

“There is no point in this text where I call for the construction of camps, barbwire. It’s in the form of a question,” Couteaux told the press agency. For their part the National Front blamed the press for provoking the controversy.

National Front election threat

The ensuing anger his comments drew online and in the French press came just weeks before municipal elections are to be held across the country.

There are concerns the National Front, with its anti-immigrant and anti-Europe stance, could put up a strong showing as it attempts to continue its recent march towards mainstream power.

Party head Marine Le Pen has been desperately trying to build a more palatable image for the party. The party, once universally regarded as anti-Semitic, racist and xenophobic, has undergone a project of "dédiabolisation" ("un-demonizing") since Le Pen took over as leader in 2011.

She is frequently quoted and interviewed by major French news outlets and has worn some of the edges off the party founded by her father, extreme right firebrand Jean-Marie Le Pen.

However, her efforts are regularly challenged by National Front members or affiliates who have a tendency to unleash offensive gaffes in public. 

'I'd prefer to see her hanging from a tree'

In October Anne-Sophie Leclere, who was due to run on the party’s ticket in the northern French region of Ardennes in March, was suspended by the party after comparing Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, who is black, to a monkey in a Facebook post.

The post included a photo montage of a baby monkey, with the caption “18 months”, next to an image of Taubira with “now” written below it. Leclere attempted to explain the post to a TV news reporter.

“Honestly, she’s a wild animal, coming on TV with that devil’s smile,” Leclere told France TV.

“I’d prefer to see her swinging from a tree than in government,” she added, denying that she or the photo were racist, claiming, “I have friends who are black.”

Only last month another National Front candidate was barred from running for election after it was discovered he had a tatoo honouring a unit of Hitler's SS division that operated in France.

Critics say this type of incident and the words of candidates such as Coûteaux reveal the true colours of the National Front's members.

"Concentrating Roma in camps,... yes the National Front has changed... or not! It's the same old shop, again and again," Tweeted Damien Toumi.

 

 

Despite the many pitfalls of trying to rein in extremist candidates, Le Pen’s efforts have paid some dividends.

A public opinion poll released last month showed 34 percent of French people agreed with the National Front’s ideas, which was it’s highest rates of acceptance since the mid-1980s.

Don't miss stories about France, join us on Facebook and Twitter

Joshua Melvin (joshua.melvin@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Opinion - Freedom of speech
France hit by 'hysteria' as police grill 8-year-old
Has it gone too far? French police question eight-year-old over alleged pro-terrorist comments. Photo: Fred Dufour/AFP

France hit by 'hysteria' as police grill 8-year-old

After a school pupil, aged just eight, was reported to police for allegedly praising the Paris gunmen, Human Rights League, a French civil liberties group, tells The Local that France is in danger of giving the terrorists exactly what they wanted. READ  

Guest blog - Myth of French lovers
The myths that make French lovers disappoint
A very French heart throb Olivier Martinez, pictured here with his wife, the Hollywood actress Halle Berry. Photo: AFP

The myths that make French lovers disappoint

After regularly having to lend an ear to her Anglo friends left disappointed by the failure of their French lovers to live up to expectations, blogger Muriel Jacques, who runs the site "French Yummy Mummy" clears up a few common myths about Frenchmen. READ  

France unveils plan to cut police suicides
These new graduates at the French Prefecture de Police will be given greater psychological support to prevent suicides. Photo: Fred Dufour/AFP

France unveils plan to cut police suicides

France’s interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve has unveiled a new plan to tackle the taboo subject of suicides in the police force after a sharp rise in the number of officers taking their own lives. READ  

IN PICTURES
Paris commuter chaos after train driver attacked
This was the scene at St Lazare station in Paris after a strike on the RER A. Photo: Twitter/Billy Florian

Paris commuter chaos after train driver attacked

Commuters in Paris faced travel chaos on Thursday morning after train drivers on the RER held a wildcat strike following a violent attack on one of their colleagues. READ  

Nordics outshine French at culinary world cup
Norwegian chef Orjan Johannessen (C) holds a Norwegian flag as he celebrates with coach Odd Ivar Solvold (C-L) and teammate Jimmy Oien (R) after winning the Bocuse d'Or. Photo: AFP

Nordics outshine French at culinary world cup

Despite the so-called 'world cup for chefs' being held on home soil in Lyon, France failed to pick up the Bocuse d’Or this year as Nordic and American chefs took the podium places. READ  

France seeks to bar 'hated' US pick-up coach
By Wednesday morning the petition had over 6,000 signatures. Screen grab: YouTube

France seeks to bar 'hated' US pick-up coach

A petition to stop the controversial US seduction coach and pick-up artist Julien Blanc from coming to France later this year as part of his European tour has already garnered thousands of signatures. READ  

Angouleme comic festival
French comic festival opens amid tight security
French right-wing UMP party Mayor of Angouleme Xavier Bonnefont (L) claps as a banner is unveiled on the facade of the Hotel de Ville (City Hall) of Angouleme, eastern France, on January 28, 2015, in

French comic festival opens amid tight security

The world's leading comics festival was set to open in France on Thursday under a tight net of security as it dedicated this year's event to the murdered cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo. READ  

Animals have feelings, French parliament rules
Animals in France do have feelings, says French parliament. Photo: Petras Gagilas/Flickr

Animals have feelings, French parliament rules

There was a significant victory for animal rights capaigners in France on Wednesday when the country's parliament officially recognised animals as "living, sentient beings" rather than just pieces of "furniture". READ  

French cops grill 8-year-old for 'glorifying terror'
Police were called out to a school to question an eight-year-old over comments he made allegedly supporting terrorists. Photo: AFP

French cops grill 8-year-old for 'glorifying terror'

France is suffering from a "colective hysteria" in the aftermath of the Paris attacks, according to an Islamaphobia watchdog, after it emerged an eight-year-old boy was grilled by police over comments he made at school allegedly praising the terrorists. READ  

Who is slaying France's rugby roosters?
Over 30 of the roosters have been killed in the last month. Photo: Jim Bahn/Flickr

Who is slaying France's rugby roosters?

A distraught farmer has been left scratching her head after over thirty of her famous roosters have been "murdered" in the last month. The farmers' 'coqs' are known for making appearances during French international rugby matches. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Features
Studying in France: what you need to know
Culture
What's on in France: Ten things to do in February
Business & Money
FATCA: 'The age of financial privacy is over'
National
The ways French motorists drive expats crazy
National
'French culture demands jihadists are punished not de-radicalised'
Culture
'Midriff the new cleavage' at Chanel's Paris show
Politics
'Syriza victory is good news for French people'
Society
France bars parents from naming baby 'Nutella'
National
France has no entrepreneurs!? What about fart pills for windy lovers?
Society
Nutella to Happy: The wacky French baby names banned by law
Culture
Men's Fashion Week in Paris in pictures - from penises to androgyny
Health
Could France be the next country to ban sunbeds?
Gallery
Ten French words you will never hear in France
National
Wrap up warm: Big freeze to hit northern France at the weekend
National
Muslims in France - 'They say we're not French'
National
Paris wants New York-inspired 'citizen cards'
Gallery
An architect has shown how he thinks Paris should look in 2050
Culture
Where are the real "no-go zones" in Paris? We've listed 10.
Society
Cheese diet helps oldest Frenchman live to 110
National
Charlie Hebdo chief stands firm over cartoons as global protests spread
National
'It feels like I'm in a warzone': Paris tourist
National
Are there really 'no-go zones' in Paris?
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
National
A futuristic vision of Paris revealed... and other news
National
What now for France post-terror attacks?
National
France to beef up its surveillance powers
National
Charlie Hebdo sells out within hours in France
Politics
Paris attacks: Knock-on effects in Sweden and across Europe
National
France moves to crack down on terror speech in aftermath of attacks
National
French Muslims react to Charlie Hebdo's Muhammad cover
National
'I only had a few seconds to hide from the Kouachis'
National
After three days of terror France feels like a nation
National
IN PICTURES: France's biggest street demos in recent history
National
And in other news in France ...
National
A defiant France rises up on solidarity like never before
Gallery
IN PICTURES: Paris marches for unity after terror attacks
National
OPINION: 'As bloody as it's been, France is not at war'
National
'It's a true nightmare': Parisians react to terror attacks
National
French to march in unity to help heal their wounded nation
National
Profile: the most wanted woman in France
National
Twitter disgust over 'I am Kouachi' hashtag
National
The incredible stories of how some survived the Paris gunmen
National
Al Qaeda threatens a shaken France with more terror
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

537
jobs available