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Tumult in French parliament over Palestinian flag, clothing

By AFP

June 4, 2024 10:17 PM


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The French parliament erupted in tumult on Tuesday as a hard-left lawmaker stood up with a Palestinian flag, a week after another deputy was temporarily suspended for doing so.

Rachel Keke, a member of parliament for the France Unbowed (LFI) party from the Paris region, brandished the flag at the start of a session of questions to government in the lower house.

She stood up amid a flood of Green, Communist and LFI lawmakers who had dressed in green, white, red and black for the occasion and arranged their seating so that from afar they looked like the Palestinian flag.

"No, no, no, no, no," said Parliament Speaker Yael Braun-Pivet.

"I thought things were very clear and that you had, like everyone else, been able to read our rules," she said, calling for Keke to be sanctioned and temporarily suspending the session.

Earlier, the speaker had reminded the left-wing lawmakers that parliamentarians were supposed to express themselves "exclusively in the oral form".

Fellow LFI parliament member Sebastien Delogu brandished the flag at the same session last week, causing him to be suspended for two weeks and have his parliamentary allowance cut by half for two months.

Keke, a former hotel chambermaid born in Ivory Coast, was elected to parliament in 2022.

She made a name for herself after winning a gruelling battle for better working conditions in the Paris hotel where she cleaned.

The latest Gaza war has sparked tensions in France, a country with the largest Jewish community of any country after Israel and the United States, as well as Europe's biggest Muslim community.

The war was triggered by Palestinian militant group Hamas's unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,194 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.

Militants also took 251 hostages, 120 of whom remain in Gaza, including 41 the army says are dead.

Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed at least 36,550 people in Gaza, also mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.

French President Emmanuel Macron has said he would be prepared to recognise a Palestinian state, but such a move should "come at a useful moment" and not be based on "emotion".

Jean-Noel Barrot, minister delegate for Europe, repeated this stance in parliament.

"This decision must be useful," he said.


AFP


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