French Prime Minister François Fillon, and his entire Cabinet walked out of a government questions session of Parliament Tuesday evening after an MP accused Interior Minister Claude Guéant of espousing Nazi ideologies.
Serge Letchimy, a member of the Socialist Party and a native of Martinique, barraged Guéant over a comment he made last weekend during a meeting with a group of students where he indicated that some civilizations, France in particular, are superior to others.
Guéant's policies are day by day leading us back to these European ideologies that gave birth to the concentration camps, Letchimy said.
The remark led to a series of loud protests from other MPs in the chamber (see video below).
Mr. Guéant, the Nazi regime, which was so concerned about purity, was that a civilization? Letchimy continued.
As the son of a slave, I cannot accept this kind of phrase, he said in a later interview.
Reportedly, Gueant told the student group: Contrary to the left-wing relativist ideology, for us, not all civilizations are equal. Those who defend humanity seem more advanced to us than those who deny it. Those who defend freedom, equality and brotherhood seem to us superior to those that accept tyranny, subjugation of women and social or ethnic hatred.
Guéant, a member of President Nicolas Sarkozy's ruling right-wing UMP party, has faced many accusations of discrimination during his time as interior minister. He is often accused of bias against Islam and France's sizable immigrant population.
Sarkozy defended Guéant and said in an interview that his comments were common sense and characterized the affair surrounding them as ridiculous.
The opposition Socialist Party has branded Guéant's statement as an attempt by the UMP to retain voters from the right-wing of their base who have been difting toward the far-right National Front.
France's two-stage presidential election will occur in April and May.
Socialist candidate Francois Hollande is currently leading Sarlozy in the polls, the Associated Press reports.