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Feminists win court war against 'French Eminem'

Dan MacGuill · 31 May 2013, 17:52

Published: 31 May 2013 17:52 GMT+02:00

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A court in Paris found 30-year-old rapper Orelsan, known as the ‘French Eminem,’ guilty on Friday of insulting speech over the lyrics of one of his songs, sparking a row over artistic censorship.

The words“les meufs c’est des putes” (“women are whores”), from his 2009 song “Courez Courez,” which roughly translates as “Sleep around, sleep around"  were enough to have him convicted by the court.

Furthermore, he was found guilty of incitement to violence for the line “ferme ta gueule ou tu vas t’faire marie-trintigner” (“shut your mouth or you’ll end up like Marie Trintignant”) from the 2007 song “Saint-Valentine.”

Marie Trintignant was a French actress beaten to death in 2003 by her boyfriend, the French rockstar Bertrand Cantat.

Cantat, the lead singer of the band Noir Desir, served four years of an eight-year sentence for manslaughter, in a high-profile case that caused massive controversy in France at the time.

Orelsan, whose real name is Aurélien Cotentin, had been pursued in court since 2009 by five separate women's rights organizations.

The feminist group Chiennes de garde (Watchdogs), Le collectif feministe contre le viol (The feminist collective against rape), La fédération national solidarité femmes (The women’s national solidarity federation), and Le mouvement français pour le planning familial (The French family planning movement), united in bringing charges against the rapper.

For his part, Orelsan’s lawyer Simon Tahar condemned the court on Friday for “clearing a wide, deep path for the censorship of artistic creation,” according to Europe 1 radio.

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Conversely, Alain Weber, lawyer for the five plaintiff groups, said he was satisfied with what he called a “legal precedent” in “the struggle for the dignity of human beings.”

Four years ago, Orelsan, originally from Alençon in Normandy, was unsuccessfully sued by French feminist group ‘Ni putes ni soumises’ for his song “Sale pute” (“Dirty whore”), which was a source of controversy at the time.

In court on Friday, he was ordered to pay a suspended €1,000 fine for his lyrical transgressions.

Dan MacGuill (dan.macguill@thelocal.com)

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