• France's news in English

Ex-minister cleared of racism on appeal

AFP · 15 Sep 2011, 14:48

Published: 15 Sep 2011 14:48 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

An appeals court overturned former French interior minister Brice Hortefeux's racism conviction on Thursday, a legal victory for one of President Nicolas Sarkozy's closest political allies.

Last year, Hortefeux was convicted of mocking the Arab origins of a young member of Sarkozy's ruling party, in an incident that was caught on video and became a viral video hit and an embarrassment to the government.

But, on Thursday, the Paris appeals court found fault with the way in which the country's best known anti-racist organisation had been assigned as a civil plaintiff in the case, and threw out the case -- a de facto aquittal.

The group, the Movement Against Racism and for Friendship Between Peoples (MRAP), insisted that the court had not directly questioned the racism charge, and warned that it plans to appeal the ruling in a higher court.

Hortefeux was interior minister at the time of the incident, but he has since stood down to work as a political adviser to Sarkozy, and is expected to play a leading role in his leader's campaign for re-election next year.

At the summer 2009 UMP party conference, Hortefeux posed for a picture with a party member of North African descent and joked: "You always need one. When there's one, that's OK. It's when there's a lot of them you have problems."

Story continues below…

Most of the tens of thousands of viewers who saw the footage interpreted the remark as a slight on the young man's origins, but the minister insisted he had been affectionately joking about his coming from the predominantly agricultural Auvergne region.

The target of the comment, 22-year-old Amine Benalia-Brouch, initially defended Hortefeux, insisting he had not been insulted, but later left the UMP and said he had been pressured into making his statement by party officials.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Today's headlines
France given wake up call as it bids for Brexit business
The business district 'La Defense' in Paris. Photo: AFP

France clearly has some work to do if it really wants to pinch business from the UK post-Brexit.

Mouth fun? French words you just can't translate literally
Do you know the French word for throat-support? Photo: AFP

Word of warning: Don't translate French literally.

How France plans to help its stressed-out police force
Yellow smoke rises around French police officers in Paris holding a banner reading "Solidarity with our colleagues, police angry". All photos: AFP

Could these measures stop the cops from protesting?

'3,000 migrants dispersed' after 'Jungle' clearance
Photo: AFP

While thousands of migrants have been bussed out around France, new ones are arriving all the time and thousands of others have simply been dispersed aid agencies say.

Fifteen of the most bizarre laws in France
Photo: Matthew Powell/Flickr

A must read for anyone who wants to stay on the right side of the law in France.

Medieval town in south of France upholds ban on UFOs
The town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Photo: Aa77zz/Flickr

Aliens take note.

American tourist dies at French Riviera sex club
The Riviera resort of Cannes. Photo: AFP

American tourist reportedly fell five floors after being pushed outside the underground sex club in Cannes.

Paris: 'Flying' water taxis to be tested on River Seine
Photo: SeaBubbles

An in Seine idea surely? But tests will go ahead.

France joins fight for rich pickings from post-Brexit UK
Photo: AFP/DcnH/Flickr

France tries to woo EU's bank regulator and other agencies.

How speaking French can really mess up your English
Photo: CollegeDegree360/Flickr

So you've mastered French, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available