News / Europe

French Minister Orders Police Action Over Mayor's Hitler Remark to Roma

 French Interior Minister Emmanuel Valls (R) and Justice Minister Christiane Taubira (L) visit the scene of a Roma squat in which a fire broke out in Lyon, France, May 13, 2013. French Interior Minister Emmanuel Valls (R) and Justice Minister Christiane Taubira (L) visit the scene of a Roma squat in which a fire broke out in Lyon, France, May 13, 2013.
x
 French Interior Minister Emmanuel Valls (R) and Justice Minister Christiane Taubira (L) visit the scene of a Roma squat in which a fire broke out in Lyon, France, May 13, 2013.
French Interior Minister Emmanuel Valls (R) and Justice Minister Christiane Taubira (L) visit the scene of a Roma squat in which a fire broke out in Lyon, France, May 13, 2013.
Reuters
The French interior minister has ordered police in western France to take action against a mayor and lawmaker who allegedly told a group of itinerant Roma, parked illegally near his town, that Hitler had not killed enough of them.

Gilles Bourdouleix of the UDI centrist party was recorded by a local newspaper reporter making the comment during an altercation with the group, which had parked more than 100 camping cars on a field near Cholet without a permit.

His remarks were reported as President Francois Hollande moves to defuse growing anger over illegal Roma camps from conservatives and frustrated taxpayers, who, in a time of austerity, feel that social services provided by the state are being abused.

The mayor told a television channel that his comments had been distorted. He was not immediately available for comment to Reuters.

“I mumbled something like, 'if it was Hitler he would have killed them here,' meaning, 'thank goodness I'm not Hitler and so there's no reason to call me Hitler,'” he told BFM news TV. “This is shameful score-settling, which aims to smear me.”

Last week, Hollande's Socialist Party proposed a law making it easier to evict such groups, amid worries that the issue could prove damaging to his unpopular government in municipal elections one year from now.

“This is not a slip of the tongue,” Interior Minister Manuel Valls told news channel i>Tele TV. “A case has been brought before the courts because this is praise for the crimes of World War II, it's praise for Nazis, and coming from a mayor it's unbearable,” he said.

At Valls's request, a police prefect in western France filed a complaint with a state prosecutor, accusing Bourdouleix of "praising crimes against humanity," said police.

The prosecutor was not immediately available for comment. A person found guilty of praising crimes against humanity can face up to 45,000 euros in fines, a year in jail, or both.

France numbers about 250,000-300,000 itinerant Roma, mostly French citizens. They have a special status that allows them by law to temporarily park their mobile homes in designated open-air areas with power and water hook-ups during the summer.

But reports of them parking elsewhere - sometimes on municipal sports fields - has angered many.

Earlier this month, the center-right mayor of the southern city of Nice expelled one group from a sports field, vowing to “crush” the “delinquents,” and urged other mayors to revolt against what he called leniency by the Socialists.

The head of the UDI, Jean-Louis Borloo, has said he would seek to exclude Bourdouleix at the next meeting of the party's executive committee, according to media reports.

Under Hitler's rule, Nazi Germany attempted to exterminate the Roma people of Europe. Estimates of how many were killed in Nazi concentration camps range from 220,000 to 1,500,000.

You May Like

Mugabe Dismisses Male-Female Equality

'It is not possible that women can be at par with men' incoming African Union president declares on eve of summit More

Somali Terror Suspect's Light Sentence Raises Questions

Abdullahi Yusuf, 18, could have spent 15 years in prison but judge instead sentenced him to a halfway house, and a program to try to integrate him back into the community More

Video Kobani Ravaged Following Kurdish Ouster of IS Militants

Even so, hundreds of refugees sheltering in Turkey seek to return; Kurdish forces hold some back, saying fighting continues More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid