‘I’m not racist, my friend is blacker than an Arab’

Former Secretary of State for Family under Nicolas Sarkozy, Nadine Morano, has been criticised after defending herself against claims she is racist on French television last night.

'I'm not racist, my friend is blacker than an Arab'
Nadine Morano

Morano, 48, tried to bat off the accusations, saying her best friend is “blacker than an Arab”, on the popular debate programme, “C à Vous”, on the channel France 5.

“I find it shocking when people try to make out I’m a racist, even though I have friends who are Arab – of which my best friend is Tchadian, so blacker than an Arab,” she said.

“Do you know who it’s shocking for? My family, who I have to protect. I have children too. In a few days I’m going to have a grandson.

“I don’t want people to trick others into believing that Nadine Morano is a racist, because they know very well it’s not true. This kind of thing does damage, it makes you sick to your stomach,” she added.

Morano, who lost her seat as MP of Meurthe-et-Moselle, in the Lorraine region, last weekend, has made several attempts to reach out to far right voters in recent weeks, including giving an interview in the right wing weekly paper “Minute”, and calling on Front National voters to vote UMP because the two parties share the same values.

Elena Casas, the French press reviewer for international news channel France 24 said: “This is really what we’ve come to expect of Morano since before the elections. She’s been saying for a while that the UMP have values in common with right wing party the Front National (FN), and when a French comedian called her for a prank, she admitted she thought Marine Le Pen had talent.

“The whole incident kind of represents a current of opinion within the UMP – the former defence minister Gérard Longuet said the FN and the UMP should grow closer, and acting president of the UMP, Jean-François Copé, said UMP voters should no more vote for a socialist than they should the FN.

“Obviously what she said on France 5 last night is a lot more embarrassing for the UMP, but not as embarrassing as if an English politician had said it, because we are in France after all.”

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French court orders Twitter to reveal anti-hate speech efforts

A French court has ordered Twitter to give activists full access to all its documents relating to efforts to combat racism, sexism and other forms of hate speech on the social network.

French court orders Twitter to reveal anti-hate speech efforts
Photo: Alastair Pike | AFP

Six anti-discrimination groups had taken Twitter to court in France last year, accusing the US social media giant of “long-term and persistent” failures in blocking hateful comments from the site.

The Paris court ordered Twitter to grant the campaign groups full access to all documents relating to the company’s efforts to combat hate speech since May 2020. The ruling applies to Twitter’s global operation, not just France.

Twitter must hand over “all administrative, contractual, technical or commercial documents” detailing the resources it has assigned to fighting homophobic, racist and sexist discourse on the site, as well as “condoning crimes against humanity”.

The San Francisco-based company was given two months to comply with the ruling, which also said it must reveal how many moderators it employs in France to examine posts flagged as hateful, and data on the posts they process.

The ruling was welcomed by the Union of French Jewish Students (UEJF), one of the groups that had taken the social media giant to court.

“Twitter will finally have to take responsibility, stop equivocating and put ethics before profit and international expansion,” the UEJF said in a statement on its website.

Twitter’s hateful conduct policy bans users from promoting violence, or threatening or attacking people based on their race, religion, gender identity or disability, among other forms of discrimination.

Like other social media businesses it allows users to report posts they believe are hateful, and employs moderators to vet the content.

But anti-discrimination groups have long complained that holes in the policy allow hateful comments to stay online in many cases.

French prosecutors on Tuesday said they have opened an investigation into a wave of racist comments posted on Twitter aimed at members of the country’s national football team.

The comments, notably targeting Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, were posted after France was eliminated from the Euro 2020 tournament last week.

France has also been having a wider public debate over how to balance the right to free speech with preventing hate speech, in the wake of the controversial case of a teenager known as Mila.

The 18-year-old sparked a furore last year when her videos, criticising Islam in vulgar terms, went viral on social media.

Thirteen people are on trial accused of subjecting her to such vicious harassment that she was forced to leave school and was placed under police protection.

While President Emmanuel Macron is among those who have defended her right to blaspheme, left-wing critics say her original remarks amounted to hate speech against Muslims.