The parliamentary representative asked French justice courts to pursue the two doctors for racism.
Ouarzazate – French parliamentary representative M’jid El Guerrab addressed a complaint to his lawyers on April 4 condemning the racist statements two French doctors, Jean-Paul Mira and Camille Locht, made on April 1.
The doctors sparked outrage on social media after they suggested testing COVID-19 vaccines on Africans during a live talk show on the French television channel LCI.
Mira, the head of the intensive care department at the Cochin Hospital in Paris, proposed testing potential coronavirus vaccines on African populations to Locht, the research director at the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research (INSERM).
“The message behind the two doctor’s statements is shocking and clear: let’s test the vaccine first on Africans and see if it will work,” El Guerrab told Maghreb Arab Press.
“This is an evident call for discrimination based on race. These statements are not only unacceptable but punishable by the law.”
El Guerrab, the son of Moroccan immigrants, clarified that the doctors’ statements constitute a dual crime according to the July 29, 1881, law about press freedom.
“The first crime is the public insult against Africans,” explains El Guerrab, who serves as a member of the National Assembly for the 9th district of French people living abroad.
“The second crime is the call for serious medical testing on Africans based on their origins.”
Despite apologies from Mira on April 3, El Guerrab is determined to take the case to court. Mira expressed apologies to all those who were hurt by the racist remarks he “clumsily suggested” during the conversation with Locht.
While discussing the Bacillus Calmette–Guerin (BCG) vaccine, currently used to prevent tuberculosis, as a potential COVID-19 treatment, Mira suggested taking the trials to Africa.
“If I can be provocative, shouldn’t we do this study in Africa where there are no masks, no treatment, no intensive care? A bit like we did in some studies on AIDS. We tried things on prostitutes because they are highly exposed and do not protect themselves,” said Mira.
Locht agreed with the suggestion: “You are right. We are actually thinking about leading a study in Africa… We have already launched a call for bids and we are strongly considering the idea.”
The exchange between the two doctors triggered outrage online and caught the attention of several celebrities, including Cameroonian football star Samuel Eto’o and Ivorian football legend Didier Drogba.
The Moroccan Lawyers Club also slammed the French doctors, announcing that they will file a complaint for defamation and racism.
The lawyers’ collective described the exchange between the two Frenchmen as “hateful and racist.”
INSERM, Locht’s employer, issued a statement following the incident. However, instead of presenting an apology, the institute justified Locht’s crude remarks by saying they were “wrongly interpreted.”