14:17 GMT +320 October 2019
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    Gérard Depardieu in La Musica Deuxième production at the Moscow Variety Theater. (File)

    Depardieu Goes Off on Misbehaving Algerians in Marseilles, Sparks Twitter Debate

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    French screen legend Gerard Depardieu has spoken out against the way Algerian nationals living in the southern French city of Marseilles conduct themselves. The remarks quickly set social media ablaze.

    "Algerians living in Marseilles could not behave the way they do in Marseilles in Algeria," Depardieu said, speaking to the host of the Le Quotidien program on French TV channel TMC. "You never see an Algerian behaving badly in Algeria, because they are quickly put back in line by the elders," he added.

    Depardieu recalled that in 1830, at the start of the French colonization of Algeria, "there were fountains, greenery, extraordinary wheat crops; all of this was ransacked by armed gangs." Nevertheless, the actor recommended visiting the country. "You have to go there. It is an amazing country," he said.

    Social media users rushed to comment on Depardieu's remarks. Some supported him, while others claimed accused him of "racism."

    "Well said Monsieur Depardieu!"

    "In general, North Africans behave badly outside their home country! As they say here [in Morocco], we've sent you the 'worst'! And when they come back to their home country, these are real hordes of thugs who are hated at home! They are called 'the immigrants'!"

    "I can confirm that the same is the case from all countries of the Maghreb."

    "Depardieu is a racist; does this surprise anyone?"

    Although the French government does not collect official data on religion, it is estimated that between 20% to 40% of Marseilles' population of 855,000 people is Muslim. About a third of them are estimated to have been born in France. Muslim immigration to the city from the Maghreb region (including Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia) began to increase in the 1970s, following independence. According to a 2011 survey, the city's population includes at least 150,000 persons of Algerian descent.

    Marseilles has also been hard hit by the influx of refugees flowing across the Mediterranean from Libya, a country inflamed by civil war and chaos following the NATO-backed ouster of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.


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