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Prominent Front National youth member suspended over alleged racist slur

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By Emma Beswick
Prominent Front National youth member suspended over alleged racist slur

The deputy director of the French National Front's youth organization has been suspended after being accused of using a racist slur on the sidelines of the party's party congress in Lille.

A video circulated on Twitter Saturday purported to show Davy Rodriguez saying "nègre de merde" (a racist insult for a black person) as he left a bar in the northern French city.

Rodriguez, also parliamentary assistant to the FN's party, spokesperson Sébastien Chenu, denies making the remarks.

Chenu announced early Sunday afternoon that the youth party politician was provisionally suspended as a precautionary measure, a decision approved by National Front President Marine Le Pen, according to AFP.

The video was shared by an anonymous Twitter account and subsequently deleted, but not before it had been widely reshared.

The parliamentary assistant appears to be leaving a bar looking visibly agitated.

Rodriguez's entourage try to appease him, referencing Le Pen: "Calm down, Davy, you have no interest in getting annoyed! Do you think Marine would like to see you like this?

"Stop, you're a parliamentary assistant," said another bystander.

Rodriguez responds that he doesn't care.

"I formally deny having made the racist remarks that have been attributed to me," Rodriguez wrote on Twitter.

"That's absolutely not my style," he told Buzzfeed, "I've lived all my life in deprived neighbourhoods with many people coming from African immigration. I've never said that, I'm not going to start today.

Le Pen stood unopposed at the Lille congress, reelected with 100% of the votes following her defeat to President Emmanuel Macron in last May's general elections.

She said the party's priority should be to gain power, which could only be achieved through a coalition with allies.

Le Pen also proposed changing her party's name to "National Rally" in a bid to improve its image, telling members that the current name was a "psychological barrier" for voters.