French deputy condemned for for saying ‘Hitler didn’t kill enough’ Travellers
Mayor faces expulsion from centre-right UDI party
Gilles Bourdouleix: made remark after some 150 caravans camped illegally on land belonging to the town of Cholet, where he is mayor. Photograph: Frank Perry
The French political class has unanimously condemned Gilles Bourdouleix, a deputy in the national assembly and mayor of a town in western France, for saying that “Hitler didn’t kill enough” Travellers.
Mr Bourdouleix is likely to be expelled today from the political party he helped to co-found, the centre-right UDI. The Nazi regime murdered more than half a million gypsies during the second World War.
Mr Bourdouleix made the remark after some 150 caravans camped illegally on land belonging to the town of Cholet, where he is mayor, on July 21st. In a confrontation, Travellers called Mr Bourdouleix “Hitler” and made Nazi salutes, “which shows that maybe Hitler didn’t kill enough of them”, the politician muttered. Unknown to him, a Courrier de l’Ouest journalist recorded the remark, which the newspaper published.
After Mr Bourdouleix denied having said it, the Courrier posted the recording online. He continues to maintain that he was the victim of “manipulation”.
Prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Mr Bourdouleix’s words were “unworthy of an elected official” and “punishable by law”. Mr Bourdouleix had lost his sangfroid, Mr Ayrault continued, “but I think it reveals something more profound, which is unacceptable . . . In our republic, a representative of the nation, elected by the people, cannot talk that way because he undermines the values of the republic.”
The interior minister Manuel Valls called Mr Bourdouleix’s remarks “inadmissible” and said he “must be very heavily punished by the justice system”. On his instructions, the prefect of the Maine-et- Loire department has asked a prosecutor to charge Mr Bourdouleix with excusing a crime against humanity.
The incident followed recent outbursts against Roma and Travellers. Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of the far- right National Front, referred earlier this month to the “itchy, smelly” presence of Roma.
Christian Estrosi, the conservative mayor of Nice, called on the mayors of France to “revolt” against Travellers. Mr Estrosi described the “big, beautiful cars they use to tow their big, beautiful caravans, that it would take French people a lifetime to pay for”.
The UDI party is led by the former cabinet minister Jean- Louis Borloo. Mr Bourdouleix remains president of the smaller, rural CNIP, whose members are known for politically incorrect statements.
François Lebel, a CNIP member and mayor of the 8th district in Paris, compared same-sex marriage to “polygamy, incest and paedophilia”.