French mayor sparks row with anti-migrant posters
A French mayor sparked outrage among rights groups on Wednesday after putting up anti- migrant posters and calling for a local referendum ahead of the arrival of asylum seekers in his town.
Under the headline “That’s It, They’re Coming”, is an image of a crowd of migrants, all of them men, outside the cathedral of the southern town of Beziers.
“The state is imposing them on us,” the poster reads.
“Migrants in our town centre.”
The poster put out by Mayor Robert Menard, an ally of the far-right National Front, is a reaction to government plans to relocate thousands of migrants from the north coast to dozens of sites around France.
It is reminiscent of a controversial poster created by leading Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage, former head of Britain’s anti-immigration UK Independence Party (UKIP), showing a vast queue of migrants under the slogan “Breaking Point”. Emmaus, a French group that works with migrants and other homeless people, denounced Menard’s poster as “nauseating” in a post on its Twitter account.
SOS Racism has called for the region’s governor to step in and stop Menard’s planned referendum.
And the government’s anti-racism body DILCRA has called on the prosecutor’s office in Beziers to investigate what it says is a “flagrant” example of incitement to hatred.
“The repeated targeting of people or groups because of their origin or their beliefs cannot be accepted,” it said in a statement.
Speaking to French radio today, Menard said: “I’ll do everything to ensure that these migrants don’t settle in.”
Beziers’ mayor since 2014, Menard said he had not been informed that a migrant reception centre was planned in the town and thought residents should be allowed to vote in a referendum asking whether the migrants should be accepted.