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French minister draws criticism saying claims of police brutality make him 'suffocate'

Macron's Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin was auditioned by the French National Assembly today
Macron's Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin was auditioned by the French National Assembly today Copyright Ludovic Marin/AP
Copyright Ludovic Marin/AP
By Mathieu Pollet with AFP
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French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin's use of the word "suffocate" when talking about police brutality claims has sparked outrage and further increased controversy surrounding his appointment

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"When I hear the words 'police violence', personally, I suffocate," Macron's new Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said in the French National Assembly.

His phrasing has drawn further criticism at a time when many questioned his appointment after he faced an investigation over a rape allegation.

"The police use violence indeed, but in a legitimate way. [...] It needs to be proportionate and subject to a framework. When it is executed outside of the rules, they should be immediately sanctioned," he added.

Darmanin's sparked anger due to his use of the word "suffocate", echoing the words of a delivery driver who died after being pinned to the ground by French police.

Cédric Chouviat, 42, died on January 5 of asphyxia and a broken larynx. He repeated "I'm suffocating" nine times while on the ground.

In a statement, lawyers for Chouviat's family said they were "shocked" and "offended" by Darmanin's comments.

One of the lawyers tweeted saying: "Mr Darmanin, you have just ignored the limits of decency."

The issue of police violence has been a hot topic over the past few years in France due to events like the death of 24-year-old Adama Traoré to police's handling of the yellow vest protests.

The hashtag #DarmaninResign (#DarmaninDemission) was on French Twitter on Wednesday.

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