Portugal prime minister causes furor with skin color comment

Portugal prime minister causes furor with skin color comment
In this photo taken Jan. 17, 2019, Portugal's Prime Minister Antonio Costa walks to the door of the Sao Bento palace in Lisbon. On Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, the speaker of Portugal's parliament has appealed for calm during a session debating racial tensions and police conduct after the prime minister asked whether his own skin color had prompted a lawmaker's questions. Costa, whose father's family is from India, said to the lawmaker, "It must be because of my skin color that you're asking me whether I condemn or don't condemn" police violence. The comment caused an uproar. (AP Photo/Armando Franca)

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Portugal’s parliamentary speaker has appealed for calm during a session debating racial tensions and police conduct after the country’s prime minister asked whether his own skin color had prompted a lawmaker’s questions.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa, whose father’s family is from India, said to the lawmaker, “It must be because of my skin color that you’re asking me whether I condemn or don’t condemn” police violence.

The comment caused an uproar in the Republican Assembly, Portugal’s parliament, with the speaker urging restraint.

The parliamentary debate Friday came amid tension in some areas of the country between police and some members of black communities who have accused officers of racist behavior.

An anti-racism group and a far-right movement are planning separate protests Friday, prompting concerns that tensions could escalate.