French MP under fire over Nazi gypsy remark
A French MP has tried to defend himself against accusations that he told a group of gypsies he wished the Nazis had killed more of them during the Second World War.
Gilles Bourdouleix, from Cholet near Nantes, had a confrontation with gypsies on Sunday when he visited a field owned by the town where they are illegally living in caravans. He asked them to leave.
The 'Courrier de l'Ouest' newspaper, which had a journalist at the scene, reported that some of the gypsies made Nazi salutes at Mr Bourdouleix and that he responded by saying: "Maybe Hitler didn't kill enough of them."
On Monday, the paper released a recording on its website during which he can be heard saying that.
Mr Bourdouleix told the French television station iTELE that he was merely repeating a statement the journalist had made.
The MP, who threatened to sue the paper, also said that if he meets the reporter: "I'd want to give him a couple of punches."
Europe's gypsies were persecuted and deported to concentration and death camps by the Nazis.
France's Interior Ministry said it had asked prosecutors to investigate whether Mr Bourdouleix could be sued for excusing crimes against humanity.
The comment was criticised by leaders of his centre-right political party, the UDI, as well as by the Socialist Party.
Socialist Party spokesman David Assouline said: "There are ideologies with which no compromise, no concession can be made, no indulgence from any politician can be possible. I hope – if it is confirmed that these words were said – that there will be legal proceedings."
There are an estimated 400,000 gypsies in France, 95pc of them with French nationality.