In a video that has garnered over 1.5 million views on Twitter alone, the leader of the Les Republicans senate group, Bruno Retailleau, said that it is clear that immigrants, including second- and third-generation people with an immigration background, were responsible for the rioting that caused widespread destruction across the country.
“I heard that (French Interior Minister) Gerard Darmanin, yesterday at the National Assembly, said there is no link between these events and immigration. Of course there is… I’ve asked many mayors. They all tell you that it’s precisely in the neighborhoods where there are migratory ghettos. Certainly, they are French, but they are French in their official identity, and, unfortunately, for the second, third generation (of immigrants), there’s a kind of regression back towards their ethnic origins,” said Bruno Retailleau in an interview with FranceInfo.
Émeutes : "On connaît les causes. Bien sûr que si, il y a un lien" avec l'immigration, insiste Bruno Retailleau. "Pour la deuxième, la troisième génération, il y a comme une sorte de régression vers les origines ethniques." pic.twitter.com/1OAwvRgP2z— franceinfo (@franceinfo) July 5, 2023
The remark came after French Interior Minister Gerard Darmanin stated on Monday that there was no connection between immigration and the riots in France, saying that 90 percent of those arrested were French citizens.
However, Retailleau countered the French interior minister’s claim, saying that these rioters may be French citizens, but they are also second- and third-generation migrants who have not integrated into French society, and they have presented a serious security problem.
Retailleau said he feared that politics will fail to address the root problems following the week-long riot that caused over €1 billion in damage.
“We know the causes. And I want to reiterate them. Unfortunately, I’m afraid the government is tempted by the politics of failure. Once more, the French, the silent majority do not understand that there is a cold anger that is rising in the country. Because it is a double punishment for the French, because they paid into the neighborhoods, and now they have to rebuild because the savages burned them down.”
He points out that there are also issues in the schools, and the justice system’s response to these perpetrators, especially those who are arrested as minors, is “inadequate.”
He also noted that the idea to hate France came from the French themselves, stating: “I think we share some of the responsibility. We simply don’t believe in France ourselves, and we’ve often presented France as an anti-model, a counter-example. How can you make young people from immigrant backgrounds love France if you say that France is detestable?”
The left was quick to accuse Retailleau of racism after his remarks.
“This is a racist remark,” stated Manuel Bompard, the coordinator of the far-left party La France Insoumise.
Meanwhile, Communist Party MP Elsa Faucillon wrote on Twitter: that this is a “racialist thesis par excellence. The right is slipping a little more every day.”
The week-long riot produced 3,000 arrests, hundreds of wounded police officers, thousands of arson attacks, and historic landmarks, including the famed Alcazar Library, nearly burned to the ground. In one case, a flaming vehicle was even sent into a mayor’s home, nearly killing his family.
Right-leaning and conservative parties have pointed out that very few ethnic French people have participated in the riots, and for the most part, those who have are migrants or the children or grandchildren of foreigners.