The accusation from opposition Socialist lawmaker Serge Letchimy came in response to Interior Minister Claude Guéant’s remark at the weekend that not all civilisations were equal.
Letchimy said in parliament: “You, Mr. Guéant… you bring us back day after day to those European ideologies which gave birth to the concentration camps”.
He then asked: “Mr. Guéant, 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.
Guéant, who is also responsible for immigration and is known as a hardliner, provoked a storm of controversy with the comments on Saturday.
“Contrary to what the left’s relativist ideology says, for us all civilizations are not of equal value,” he told a gathering of right-wing students.
“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, a copy of which was obtained by AFP.
He also stressed the need to “protect our civilisation”.
The left denounced his speech as an attempt by Sarkozy’s camp to woo supporters of rival candidate Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Front ahead of the two-round presidential election in April and May.