The comments by Gilles Bourdouleix, the mayor (or deputy mayor as far as the Daily Mail is concerned) of Cholet (the town in western France rather than the Womble) and member of the National Assembly for the centre-right Union des démocrates et indépendants (Union of Democrats and Independents, UDI), over the weekend when he seemed to suggest that "Hitler had not killed enough of them" in a reference to gypsies, while visiting an illegal camp for Travellers, have been picked up by both the domestic and international media.
|Gilles Bourdouleix (screenshot i>Télé interview)|
There have been calls for him to be sacked and the interior minister, Manuel Valls, has asked prosecutors to take legal action against Bourdouleix for implicitly endorsing crimes against humanity, saying that, "Nothing can justify, nor excuse an elected representative...making such a reference to the worst barbarism of the 20th century,"
Not only did the journalist Fabien Leduc, write a piece including the politician's comments in the regional daily Le Courrier de l'Ouest, he also provided a recording.
Here it is, in all its glory so-to-speak.
Not easy to defend yourself in the face of such evidence.
But that hasn't stopped Bourdouleix from trying.
While he's not denying he made the comments, Bourdouleix is questioning the journalist's integrity (well they're not always angels are they?) and that of the newspaper which apparently has an "axe to grind" and insists the recording isn't quite what it seems.
He says the context in which he had to face 30 or 40 people giving him the "Nazi salute" needs to be taken into account and what was an off-the-cuff remark murmured to himself had been "misinterpreted and skewed" to fit the story.
That's paraphrasing what he said during an interview with the all-news channel i>Télé.
Bourdouleix's ducking and diving is all well and good except perhaps for his track record of how he has dealt with illegal camps and Travellers over the years.
In 2011 the Human Rights League of France lodged a complaint against him (later dropped) for comments on Travellers when he said, "We're scared of these people. They have all the rights! I'm willing to take a truck full of shit to dump in the middle of their caravans!"
And last year the same organisation filed another complaint against him against him for "inciting hatred or violence and racial discrimination against travellers."
Anyway, here's Bourdouleix defending himself in that interview with i>Télé.
Take a listen and make up your own mind.