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Minister to press charges over Arabic class hoax

AFP/The Local · 8 Sep 2014, 11:36

Published: 08 Sep 2014 11:36 GMT+02:00

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France's Morocco-born education minister said on Monday she would take legal action after a hoax letter circulated on the Internet advising towns to offer a weekly Arabic language class.

The memo, complete with fake letterhead and signature, says an official from the education ministry will contact town halls shortly "to offer a voluntary hour per week to discover the Arabic language."

"I strongly advise you to give the green light to this activity which aims at breaking down the linguistic barriers that our children could encounter in the near future," reads the document signed in the name of the 36-year-old minister, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem.

The letter circulated widely on social networks in France, especially on Twitter, over the weekend.

"The education ministry files suit every time there is a case of identity fraud," said a spokesman for Vallaud-Belkacem.

The apparent forgers made a series of errors, notably with the description of the ministry itself, which they called the "Ministry for National Education", instead of the full title of "Ministry for National Education, Higher Education and Research."

In addition, it does not fall within the ministry's purview to offer extra-curricular activities, as these are organised at a local level, the ministry stressed.

Story continues below…

Vallaud-Belkacem, a rising star in French politics who is the first woman to hold the office of education minister, has found herself the target of attacks from the far-right for her Moroccan roots.

Last week, far-right weekly Minute sparked a firestorm of controversy by describing her as a "Moroccan Muslim" and calling her appointment a "provocation".

While born in Morocco, Vallaud-Belkacem grew up in northern France and holds dual nationality. She has described herself as a "pure product of the Republic", an example of "happy integration" in a country which is home to the largest Muslim population in Europe.

AFP/The Local (joshua.melvin@thelocal.com)

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