Fury as migrants are blamed for Paris bedbugs invasion: TV presenter is condemned for suggesting immigrants ‘who do not have the same hygiene conditions’ could be the cause
- Presenter Pascal Praud, 59, was quickly condemned by the French government
A French television presenter has caused fury after suggesting immigrants were responsible for France’s recent invasion of bedbugs.
Pascal Praud, a presenter on the right-wing CNews channel, suggested there may be a link between the bedbugs and the arrival of immigrants to the country who ‘do not have the same hygiene conditions’ as those ‘on French soil’.
The recent epidemic of bedbugs has seen insects crawling over seats on the Paris metro, on high-speed trains, and at Paris’s Charles-de-Gaulle Airport.
Praud, 59, and his comments were swiftly condemned by Emmanuel Macron’s government. France’s minister for the fight against discriminations, Bérangère Couillard, said Praud’s comments were ‘shocking’.
‘I will never accept hate speech in the media,’ Couillard added.
The presenter denied he was racist and said he was being ‘insulted, harassed and defamed’ by those who questioned him online.
Pascal Praud, a presenter on the right-wing CNews channel, suggested there may be a link between the bedbugs and the arrival of immigrants to France
‘Must journalists justify the questions they ask?’ Praud said, defending himself. The presenter claimed he had been ‘pilloried’ for ‘refusing uniformity of thought’.
Praud is now under investigation by Arcom, France’s broadcasting regulator.
Praud had been speaking to Nicolas Roux de Bezieux, a pest control expert, on his show last week when he suggested the connection.
‘There is a lot of immigration at the moment,’ Praud said. ‘Is it the people who do not have the same hygienic conditions as those who are on French soil who bring [bedbugs] because they are in the street, perhaps because they don’t have access to [public services]? Is it linked to that?’
Roux de Bezieux rejected Praud’s association between the influx of bedbugs and immigration. He said the standard of hygiene has no impact on bedbugs and said they ‘affect absolutely everyone’.
CNews is the second most watched news channel in France after BFM TV, and holds a heavily right-wing editiorial stance. The same channel gave rise to Éric Zemmour, a far-right politician who built up a substantial following as a presenter before running for the presidency in 2022.
The channel is owned by billionaire Vincent Bolloré, said to be close to the far-right Le Pen dynasty, Marine and her elderly father Jean-Marie – both of whom have run for president multiple times with the populist National Rally (previously National Front) party.
Pascal Praud is now under investigation by Arcom, France’s broadcasting regulator
Bedbugs have in recent weeks gone from being a subject of potential derision to a contentious political issue in France, with aghast citizens reporting seeing the creatures in locations including trains, the Paris metro and cinemas.
The concerns have gained added weight with France in the throes of hosting the Rugby World Cup and Paris preparing to welcome athletes and fans from around the world for the 2024 Olympics.
Two schools – one in Marseille and the other in Villefranche-sur-Saone outside Lyon in southeastern France – have become infected with bedbugs and have been closed down for several days to be cleaned out, local authorities said.
The aim of a meeting on Wednesday, which will see Transport Minister Clement Beaune host transport and passenger organisations, will be to “quantify the situation and strengthen the measures”, his ministry said.
“We want to inform on the actions undertaken and act in the service of travellers to reassure and protect,” the ministry said.