30.08.2020 Europe

Outrage follows French magazine’s depiction of black MP as a slave

LISTEN AUG 30, 2020

French President Emmanuel Macron has joined other public figures in an expression of outrage after an ultra-conservative magazine portrayed the black MP Danièle Obono as a slave.

The French presidency said Macron called Danièle Obono and "expressed his clear condemnation of any form of racism".

The weekly magazine Valeurs Actuelles, which caters to readers on the right and far right, showed Obono in chains with an iron collar on her neck to illustrate a seven-page imaginary story.

'Revolting publication'

Prime Minister Jean Castex said it was a "revolting publication that calls for clear condemnation" and told Obono, a member of the far-left party France Unbowed (La France Insoumise), that she had the government's backing.

"I share the indignation of lawmaker Obono," he said.

"One is free to write a putrid novel within the limits fixed by the law. One is free to hate it. I hate it," said Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti.

Obono tweeted: "The extreme right -- odious, stupid and cruel. In brief, like itself."

The anti-racism body SOS Racisme deplored hate speech against African and Arab politicians and said it was mulling what legal measures could be taken.

'Not racist'

The magazine apologised but denied the accusation of racism, saying the story concerning Obono was "a work of fiction ... but never nasty".

An official from France's far-right National Rally party (Rassemblement National), Wallerand de Saint-Just, said the story was "in absolute bad taste".

France witnessed several protests in June and July against racial injustice and police brutality, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and George Floyd's death in the United States.

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