French MP says waving Palestinian flag was protest at ‘massacre’ in Gaza

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PARIS (Reuters) – A hard-left French lawmaker sanctioned for raising a Palestinian flag in parliament on Tuesday said he would “rather be on the right side of history than stick to the rules of the National Assembly.”

The lower house of parliament voted to suspend Sebastien Delogu, a deputy for the hard-left La France Insoumise (LFI) party, for 15 days and to half his pay as a lawmaker over two months, the harshest sanction possible.

“It’s the first time that a foreign flag has been raised in the assembly, but it’s appropriate given what’s at stake, when you have people, who are like us, on the other side of the Mediterranean being massacred,” Delogu told Reuters at a pro-Palestinian protest in Paris on Wednesday evening.

LFI has positioned itself as a defender of the Palestinians, making the issue central to its campaign for the June 9 European Parliament election.

Unlike other parties, LFI has not described the Oct 7 Hamas attack on Israel as a “terrorist” act. Some critics of LFI have accused it of antisemitism, which the party says is not true.

Delogu raised the flag during a session of questions to the government, while another LFI deputy questioned a minister about the situation in Gaza.

There have been protests and spontaneous gatherings happening in Paris everyday this week since 45 people were killed on Sunday in a massive blaze in a tent camp in the Gaza city of Rafah following an Israeli airstrike.

Of the strikes, French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on X on Monday that he was “outraged” and “these operations must stop”, however Delogu said that the government is not doing enough.

“I point the finger at France… because they continue to sell arms (to Israel), which means they are complicit in this massacre,” he said.

Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu has previously said that France will not stop sending weapon components to Israel. He has said the components are used for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defence and others are sold to Israel for re-export. Lecornu has said Paris does not provide lethal weapons to Israel.

The Elysee presidency and the defence ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Israel’s offensive on Gaza has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians since Oct.7, when Hamas-led militants attacked southern Israeli communities, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages.

National Assembly rules forbid lawmakers from brandishing flags during session. In 2019, a lawmaker from Macron’s party held up a white flag with “France kills in Yemen” written in red. He was given a warning.

Another LFI MP, David Guiraud, called a Jewish colleague a “pig” and a “pork” during a heated exchange shortly after the flag-waving incident. That MP, Meyer Habib, has said he would file a complaint for antisemitism.

(Reporting by Layli Foroudi, additional reporting by John Irish, editing by Ingrid Melander, William Maclean)

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