French official denies using racial slur at airport
A French official charged with overseeing efforts to appease racially-charged tension in a French Indian Ocean territory denied Saturday using a racial slur at a Paris airport.Paris - A French official charged with overseeing efforts to appease racially-charged tension in a French Indian Ocean territory denied using a racial slur at a Paris airport.
Paul Girot de Langlade, coordinator of a political peace process on the island of Reunion, has been suspended pending an inquiry into a charge that he insulted security personnel at Orly airport.
"The behaviour and comments that have been attributed to me in the media for the past two days do not come from me and do not reflect reality or my personality," Girot de Langlade told France Inter radio.
The prosecutor's office in the Paris suburb of Creteil has opened an investigation into "public insults of a racial character."
According to a judicial official, Girot de Langlade was stopped by security staff and asked to empty his pockets when a metal detector buzzer sounded after he disembarked from a flight at Orly airport outside Paris on July 31.
"You'd think we were in Africa. In any case, there are only blacks here," he is accused of replying, according to the official.
Girot de Langlade admitted that he losts his patience while going through security at the airport.
"The Air France stewardess who was accompanying me for the transit in Orly between two planes was herself shocked by the behaviour of the security agent and apologised in the name of her company," he said.
"I told them to hurry up -- granted, in an aggressive manner -- but that is all that I told them," the prefect, or senior state official, said.
Reunion, an island in the Indian Ocean with a racially mixed population, was earlier this year one of three French overseas territories hit by strikes and sometimes unruly protests over alleged economic discrimination.
Following the crisis, Girot de Langlade was charged with coordinating talks at which representatives of the community, employers and the state can discuss their grievances.
AFP / Expatica