MEP Nadine Morano is just the latest in a long line of French politicians to cause a minor storm with their comments.
Morano's insistence on a French panel show that France is a “country of white race” made her the biggest news story of the week and was enough to get her thrown off her party's list for the upcoming regional elections by leader Nicolas Sarkozy.
But she is far from alone when it comes to French politicians making politically incorrect comments, many of which surround the sensitive subjects of race, religion and in particular Islam.
Here are some more examples from across the years, starting with another outburst from Morano herself.
“A person wearing a full veil and carrying a suitcase is, for me, a sign of potential danger,” she told French channel BFM TV in Februrary.
The comments came after she reported a women wearing a veil to police at the Gare de l’Est train station in Paris.
Morano's attempts to disprove accusations of racism didn't help, after she said “My best friend is Chadian, so she is more black than an Arab.”
She also went on the record saying liked couscous to try to prove she wasn't racist.
Her position in the Republicans Party is now being questioned.
(Nadine Morano. Photo: AFP)
Jean-Marie Le Pen
Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder and leader of the Front National far-right party from 1972 to 2011, has had a number of convictions for hate speech during his lifetime.
In 1987, amid growing hysteria about AIDS, Le Pen proclaimed: “A person with AIDS is contagious from their sweat, their tears, their saliva, their contact. They are like lepers.”
He also claimed that the “gas chambers were a background detail of WWII,” comments he has stuck by as recently as this year.
Le Pen was hit with widespread disdain when in 2014, at a public meeting in Marseille, he said to Canal+ journalists:
“Immigration? Mr Ebola can sort that out in three months.”
The disease has killed nearly 6,500 people in Sierra Leone and Guinea alone this year.
(Controversial daughter and father Marine and Jean-Marie Le Pen. photo: AFP)
Marine Le Pen
The daughter of Jean-Marie and the current leader of the Front National Party has proven the apple does not fall far from the tree.
In 2013, after violence erupted at the celebrations of football team PSG winning the French championships, Marine Le Pen attacked both immigration and people from poorer areas of the city simultaneously
“The trouble makers were obviously delinquents of immigrant origin, and from the suburbs… The diagnosis is that we are confronted by the failure of immigration policies,” she said.
Le Pen has recently been ordered to stand trial for comments she made in 2010 which compared Muslims praying on the streets to the Nazi occupation.
“I'm sorry, but for those who really like to talk about World War Two, if we're talking about occupation, we could talk about that (street prayers), because that is clearly an occupation of the territory,” she said.
MP Gilles Bourdouleix
This MP, who is also mayor of the nearby town of Cholet, was handed a €3,000 fine for a rant in which he said “Hitler didn't kill enough Roma”.
His comments caused a storm and led the PM Manuel Valls to demand he be severely punished.
The lawmaker had made controversial remarks about Roma in the past, including in November 2010, when he threatened to drive a truck through one of their caravan camps, and last November, when he said France was facing a “new invasion” from the community.
Nicolas Sarkozy is also guilty of revealing his class prejudices. At an official visit to an agricultural show in 2008, he said “Get lost, you poor idiot!” when someone refused to shake his hand.
In another incident of being caught out by spying press, Sarkozy and US President Barack Obama were overheard exchanging sore words about Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, during the G20 summit of 2011.
Sarkozy told the President, ‘I cannot bear Netanyahu, he’s a liar”, to which Obama replied, ‘You’re fed up with him? I have to deal with him even more often than you.”
(Sarkozy together with Nadine Morano. Photo: AFP)
Jacques Chirac once famously spoke of the British at a G8 summit:
“You can't trust people who have such lousy cooking. The only thing they have done for European agriculture is 'mad cow' disease”.
In 1988, during tense European negotiations with Margaret Thatcher, Chirac was caught saying “What more does this housewife want from me? My balls on a plate?”
The ex-French Minister for Industrial renewal, Arnaud Montebourg, also tarnished Franco-USA relations with his reputation for getting into gritty cat-fights with some big businesses.
He told Lakshmi Mittal, a UK business boss, that he was “no longer welcome in France” following the threatened closure of some factories.
Politicians on gay marriage
The 2013 gay marriage law provided ripe feeding ground for provocative statements from French politicians who opposed the laws. Two notable Republican (UMP at the time) politicians, Serge Dassault and Francois Lebel, were decidedly vocal about the issue, with the former predicting:
“We will become a land of homos, and in ten years, there’ll be no one left. Look at the Greeks – [homosexuality] was one of the big reasons for their decline,” said Dassault.
(Serge Dassault. Photo: AFP)
Lebel, who officiated at the wedding of Nicolas Sarkozy and Carla Bruni in Februrary 2008, said:
“If we get rid of the timeless tradition of heterosexual marriage, who or what will stop other traditions falling? For example, how could we oppose polygamy in France tomorrow? Why would we hold on to the legal age of marriage, or continue to ban marriage between close relatives, or paedophilia or incest, which are still common currency in the world?”
Charles de Gaulle
The French president from 1959 to 1969 was yet another figure who seemed to court controversy, and seemed to have no qualms in offending almost every other race but his own.
He once said: “Arabs are nothing, We have never seen Arabs build roads, dams or factories…They are clever politicians, clever like beggars”, while in 1962 he proclaimed ‘I don’t like Zionist yids!”
(De Gaulle, here in 1945, awarding Moroccan Moulay Hassan the French “Legion d'Honneur” in Paris. Photo: AFP)
The ex-President of the UMP Party was accused of breaching Front National territory when he said in his latest book, “I know I'm breaking a taboo by using the term anti-white racism, but I do so intentionally, because it's the reality some of our fellow citizens live with, and remaining quiet about it only aggravates their trauma.”
In 2012, at a UMP meeting in Draguignan, Copé attacked Muslims by claiming, ‘there are some areas where I understand the exasperation of some of my countrymen, mothers and fathers who come home from work in the evening to hear that some hoodlum has robbed their son’s pain au chocolat and telling him he shouldn’t be eating during Ramandan.’
And lastly who can forget the hullaballoo after claims that Hollande refers to the poor as the “toothless” (les sans-dents)?