MEPs call for sanctions against Marcel de Graaff for allegedly racist comments

More than 50 MEPs have given their support to demands for a formal censure of controversial ENF group member Marcel de Graaff for allegedly racist comments.

Marcel de Graaff | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

15 Mar 2018

Dutch deputy de Graaff, in a plenary debate on Wednesday, is said to have accused Muslim people of “returning Europe back into the Middle Ages.”

Other MEPs say the comments, which were made during a plenary debate on the future of Europe with the Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa, amount to “incitement to hatred”.

A letter of complaint, drafted by Italian Socialist MEP Cécile Kyenge, has now been sent to Parliament President Antonio Tajani.

In the letter, Kyenge, who is co-leader of the European Parliament anti-racism and diversity intergroup (ARDI), calls for “dispensary measures” against de Graaff for the “hate speech.”

The letter states that de Graaff said that Islam is the “definition of gender inequality, polygamy, child marriage, slavery and honour killings.”

It goes on, “His speech was clearly based on Islamophobic rhetoric and is an unacceptable behaviour on hate speech and incitement to hatred for an MEP.

“Therefore, I would urge you to take immediate action against de Graaff using Parliament’s rules of procedure. Such behaviour should not be tolerated and should be sanctioned. His actions are all the more irresponsible and dangerous given that he is an MEP and in the current context in Europe where the rights of migrants and Muslims have come under attack.”

Kyenge writes, “Racism and xenophobia are direct violations of the principles of liberty, democracy, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law. It is imperative that all of us fight intolerance and we hope you take action.”

It is claimed de Graaff said that the inclusion of Muslim people is a “dangerous threat” to the future of the European society and accused the EU of sustaining the destruction of the continent by replacing European culture with Islam.

Speaking of the Muslim religion, he is quoted as saying, “It opened its borders and spent billions to invite millions of uneducated people from a backward culture that will launch Europe straight back into the Middle Ages”.

Kyenge, says, “By defining Muslims as non-evolved people he has shown himself as a racist using rhetoric based on the European superiority. In Europe, after all the atrocities that these kinds of statements have caused, we cannot permit policies such as De Graaf to ruin our institutions.”

She has called on Tajani to “take action as we can’t let these statements go unpunished.”

A spokesperson for the ARDI group told this website that 50 MEPs had now agreed to sign the letter.

It is not the first time De Graaf has hit the headlines for comments about Muslims. In the past he has said that Islam is “incompatible with Western civilisation.”

The MEP, who co-Chair of Parliament’s ENF group, was not immediately available for comment on Thursday.


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