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Another European mayor has filmed an aggressive warning to refugees coming to his city

Olivia Goldhill
By Olivia Goldhill

Science reporter

In what is becoming something of a genre, another mayor in Europe has filmed a confrontational video of himself taking a tough stance against refugees looking to settle in his city.

Earlier this month, Laszlo Toroczkai of Asotthalom, in Hungary, released a homemade action movie warning migrants against entering his village close to the Serbian border. Around the same time, Robert Ménard of Beziers, in southern France, recorded an equally aggressive video of himself directly confronting migrants in his city. The video was published by the mayor’s official YouTube channel.

“You are not welcome in this town,” he tells a family of Syrian refugees.

In the video, Ménard is shown marching into a squat surrounded by police, an armed guard, and a translator. He relies on the translator to deliver messages in English to a handful of refugees. At one point, he tells a Syrian man: You are stealing the water. People are paying for the water, but you are stealing electricity and water.”

Ménard, 62, didn’t always hold such stringent views towards migrants. Thirty years ago, he co-founded the international non-profit group Reporters Without Borders.

But last year he was elected mayor on a far-right ticket, and went on to enact a series of controversial policies. He imposed an 11pm curfew on minors and banned residents from hanging washing on their balconies in the city center, according to the Guardian.

In May he shocked the public by claiming to compile the names of local schoolchildren to determine that nearly two-thirds were Muslim. France has strict secularist laws, which mean it’s illegal to collect statistics on religion or ethnicity.

The former journalist also faces a lawsuit by the AFP news agency for altering a photo taken by the newswire for use in the city’s official magazine. Superimposed on a photo of people boarding a train in Macedonia were signs in the carriage windows saying “Beziers, 3,865 km” and “Free schooling, lodging and allowances for all.”

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