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Far-right mag's racial slur on minister nets fine

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Far-right mag's racial slur on minister nets fine
A racist magazine cover has resulted in a fine for a French publication. Photo: AFP
18:11 CET+01:00
A far-right publication that compared France's justice minister, who is black, to a monkey was hit on Thursday with a €10,000 fine for making racist statements.

The head of a French far-right satirical magazine was fined €10,000 ($12,500)on Thursday after his publication compared the country's black justice minister to a monkey.

A Paris court handed down the fine to Jean-Marie Molitor, boss of the Minute weekly for making insulting racist statements in public.

In November, the weekly featured on its front cover a picture of Justice Minister Christiane Taubira with headlines that read: "Crafty as a monkey" and "Taubira gets her banana back".

The text was deliberately ambiguous: the term "crafty as a monkey" in French can be used as praise while getting your banana back is roughly the equivalent of recovering the spring in your step.

Taubira herself described the newspaper's words as "extremely violent" and "denying she belonged to the human race".

The provocative cover page was an obvious reference to two other cases of Taubira being publicly likened to a monkey, incidents which sparked outrage in France amid a perceived surge in intolerance.

Judges ruled that in this context, the magazine must have been aware that they were "reviving the argument rather than calming it" and that "reiterating these allusions to a primate could even been seen as an additional
provocation."

The comparison was an allusion to a "clearly racist cliche", ruled the court.

Molitor, who describes the publication as "free and independent", not far-right, is still deciding whether to appeal, according to his lawyer, Frederic Pichon.

Founded in 1962, Minute was once one of France's biggest-selling weeklies with its appeal based on a cocktail of right-wing politics, initially centred on opposition to France's retreat from its former colony Algeria, cartoons and
show business coverage.

Its fortunes have declined considerably since the 1970s with its focus narrowing to an exclusively far-right agenda and it has a record of publishing highly provocative articles with the apparent aim of drumming up publicity.

A recent brush with controversy was when it described the appointment of a Moroccan-born woman as education minister as a "provocation."

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