ERRC Condemns Hitler Hate Speech Against Roma

24 July 2013

Budapest, 24 July 2013: The European Roma Rights Centre strongly condemns a French politician’s recent remark about Roma suggesting that “Maybe Hitler did not kill enough.” The comment, made by Gilles Bourdouleix, an MP and Mayor of the western town of Cholet, is completely unacceptable. Unfortunately, this incident does not reflect an isolated position. This is just the latest example of racist and discriminatory remarks by French politicians targeting Roma and Traveller communities and individuals in France.

Roma and Traveller communities face widespread racism and discrimination, and are unacceptably used as scapegoats by public officials in France. Unfortunately, the political climate in France today allows Mr Bourdouleix and others to express their prejudices and hatred without sanctions.

In June 2013, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a Roma settlement in Hellemes. Following the incident, Didier Réault, the Deputy Mayor of Marseille, wrote on Twitter, “Soon in Marseille Capelette the same action”. Capelette is one of the biggest Roma settlements in Marseille.  Réault  did not withdraw his statement and said there was an overreaction when people blamed him for “incitement to murder”. Jean-Marie Le Pen, the former leader of the Front National, described the presence of Roma as "irritant and smelly” on 5 July 2013. In July 2013, the MP and Mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, called on all the Mayors of France to, “a revolt against the Gens du Voyage [Travellers] settling illegally on pieces of land they don't own”. He said, "I have put down others; I will put them down as well”.

France submitted its national strategy on Roma inclusion to the European Commission earlier this year, committing itself to address the problems of Roma and Travellers. President Hollande has promised to find ‘humane’ solutions to the problems of Roma. Racist comments by public officials lead to an environment of fear and mistrust, which runs completely counter to principles of inclusion and integration. These examples reflect a deep-rooted racism in the French political system.

France needs to promptly respond and to deal with racist, stigmatising language or behaviour that incites discrimination against Roma. Without systemic measures to fight discrimination and racism towards Roma, the implementation of any policy on Roma inclusion in France will completely fail.

For more information contact:

Sinan Gökçen
Media and Communications Officer
European Roma Rights Centre


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