Disbelief as Paris councillor claims rats plaguing the city are the victims of PREJUDICE

Disbelief as Paris councillor claims rats plaguing the city are the victims of PREJUDICE and are simply ‘waste control assistants’ who should be renamed

  • Parisian official Douchka Markovic said the rat should be rebranded a ‘surmulot’
  • Translated ‘oversized field mouse’, Markovic said the term carries less negativity
  • She argued rats help to keep Paris’ sewers clean and help to curb excess rubbish
  • But critics say the leftist mayor Anne Hidalgo is shirking responsibility for cleaning up the streets
  • Rats dramatically outnumber humans in Paris, earning the city a bad reputation 

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A Parisian public official has declared the city’s vast rat population is the subject of prejudice and said the animal must be renamed to prevent people killing them.

Douchka Markovic, a supporter of the leftist mayor Anne Hidalgo and co-president of the animal right-touting Animalist Party, recently told a council meeting the term ‘rat’ encourages violence.

‘I prefer to call them surmulots (which loosely translates as ‘oversized field mouse’) as it carries less negative connotations,’ Markovic said as she rebuked the questions of centre-right councillor Paul Hatte on the need for increased pest control and extermination efforts.

French ranking site Topito earlier this year declared Paris the fourth most rat infested city in the world, and the astounding population of the rodents is earning a reputation despised by the city’s tourism chiefs.

France’s National Academy of Medicine meanwhile said the growing number of rats is a ‘threat to human health because of the numerous diseases they spread through parasites, excrement, bites and scratches’.

But Markovic, who is tasked with overseeing animal welfare in the French capital’s 18th arrondissement, said the rats have become a natural cleanser of the city’s sewers, are instrumental in helping to clear rubbish and that they must be contained in ethical, non-lethal ways. 

‘[They are] our waste control assistants. We must firstly note the role played by the animals on a daily basis in the sewers, with the evacuation of several hundred tons of waste and the unblocking of pipes,’ the councillor insisted. 

It comes as mayor Hidalgo faces staunch opposition for what many believe is her culpability in the decline of France’s largest city amid social media campaigns drawing attention to the increase in rubbish and violence on the streets.

A Parisian public official has declared the city’s vast rat population is the subject of prejudice and said the animal must be renamed to prevent people killing them 

Douchka Markovic, a supporter of the leftist mayor Anne Hidalgo and co-president of the animal right-touting Animalist Party, recently told a council meeting the term 'rat' encourages violence

Douchka Markovic, a supporter of the leftist mayor Anne Hidalgo and co-president of the animal right-touting Animalist Party, recently told a council meeting the term 'rat' encourages violence

Douchka Markovic, a supporter of the leftist mayor Anne Hidalgo and co-president of the animal right-touting Animalist Party, recently told a council meeting the term ‘rat’ encourages violence

France's National Academy of Medicine meanwhile said the growing number of rats is a 'threat to human health because of the numerous diseases they spread through parasites, excrement, bites and scratches'

France's National Academy of Medicine meanwhile said the growing number of rats is a 'threat to human health because of the numerous diseases they spread through parasites, excrement, bites and scratches'

France’s National Academy of Medicine meanwhile said the growing number of rats is a ‘threat to human health because of the numerous diseases they spread through parasites, excrement, bites and scratches’

Markovic’s protest was met with laughter in the meeting and mocked on social media, with users expressing their incredulity in a variety of ways.

One commented: ‘To avoid any stigmatising discrimination, the film Ratatouille will be renamed Surmulotatouille,’ while others posted images of tigers along with the caption: ‘This is an oversized cat’.

The city of Paris began an attempted crackdown on the spiraling rat population in 2017, when it announced an annual budget of €1.5 million dedicated to improving the city’s waste collection services and introducing ‘smart’ bins which compact rubbish and are mechanically closed to prevent rats from entering.

But a study in 2019 revealed there are now almost twice as many rats in Paris as there are people, and a combination of Covid lockdowns and building projects driving the rats out of their more suburban and rural homes have encouraged the rodents onto the city’s streets.

Socialist Parisian Mayor Anne Hidalgo has faced widespread criticism for the perceived decline of the French capital

Socialist Parisian Mayor Anne Hidalgo has faced widespread criticism for the perceived decline of the French capital

Socialist Parisian Mayor Anne Hidalgo has faced widespread criticism for the perceived decline of the French capital

A social media campaign earlier this year highlighted the issues facing Hidalgo when disgruntled Parisians began flooding Instagram and Twitter with snaps of waste-covered streets and overflowing bins

A social media campaign earlier this year highlighted the issues facing Hidalgo when disgruntled Parisians began flooding Instagram and Twitter with snaps of waste-covered streets and overflowing bins

A social media campaign earlier this year highlighted the issues facing Hidalgo when disgruntled Parisians began flooding Instagram and Twitter with snaps of waste-covered streets and overflowing bins

Meanwhile, mayor Hidalgo has copped flak for pressing on with aggressive infrastructure campaigns as her city prepares to host the 2024 Olympics, at the expense of much-needed waste collection services and disgruntled city workers.

The socialist mayor has promised to clean up the city before the Games descend on the capital in two years’ time. 

But a social media campaign earlier this year highlighted the issues facing Hidalgo when disgruntled Parisians began flooding Instagram and Twitter with snaps of waste-covered streets and overflowing bins.

The images, accompanied by the hashtag #SaccageParis (Pillage of Paris) brought into stark contrast the decline of what was once one of Europe’s most sought-after destinations. 

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