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

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.

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

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

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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Six lesser-known sites that tell the story of Paris’ black history

There's a lot more to Paris landmarks that the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe - here tour group Entrée to Black Paris share some of the sites that present a less well-known aspect of the capital's history.

Six lesser-known sites that tell the story of Paris' black history
The Carpeaux fountain in Paris. All photos: Entree to Black Paris

Black history in Paris is broad and deep, and visitors to the city who take the time to explore sites that recall this history will leave the French capital with a deeper appreciation of the impact of African diaspora history and culture on the city.

So here are six little-known sites that that extend from the Luxembourg Garden to the Bobino Theatre in Montparnasse.  You should be able to walk the whole itinerary in about an hour.

Memorial to the Abolition of Slavery

Le Cri, L’Ecrit is a large bronze sculpture in the shape of a chain that emerges from the ground on the eastern side of the Luxembourg Garden. 

Installed on May 10th, 2007 in the presence of outgoing president Jacques Chirac and incoming president Nicolas Sarkozy, it marks the 10th of May as the National Day for the Commemoration of the Abolition of Slavery.  A stele honouring the memory of France’s formerly enslaved people stands nearby.

Memorial to Gaston Monnerville

A memorial to Gaston Monnerville, a native of French Guiana, stands just outside the Observatory Gate on the south side of the garden. 

Born in 1858 in Cayenne, Monnerville obtained a law degree at the University of Toulouse.  He rose to prominence first as an attorney and then as a politician.  During his 21+ year tenure as President of the French Senate, he was the second-highest elected official of the French Republic.

The Carpeaux Fountain

Designed by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, the Fontaine de l’Observatoire stands at the southern end of the Jardin des Grands-Explorateurs. 

It presents four women supporting a celestial sphere, with each woman symbolising a continent of the world:  Africa, Europe, Asia, and North America.  The right ankle of the African woman is shackled, and, intriguingly, the North American woman is portrayed stepping on the end of the chain. 

READ ALSO ‘Forgotten treasure’ – the Paris neighbourhood that tourists rarely see

Closerie des Lilas

Standing near the Carpeaux Fountain, the Closerie des Lilas is famous for having been frequented by writers such as Hemingway and Fitzgerald and artists such as Picasso and Cézanne. 

African-American writer James Baldwin used the restaurant as a setting for his novel Giovanni’s Room, where his protagonist, David, goes to have a drink when he learns that his fiancée is about to return to Paris. 

Jean Zay Elementary School

In 2018-2019, students from Jean Zay Elementary School engaged in a series of monthly video conferences with students from Nature’s Way Montessori School in Knoxville, Tennessee around the life and art of African-American expatriate Beauford Delaney. 

Delaney, who was born in Knoxville in 1901, moved to Paris in 1953 and lived in the vicinity of the Jean Zay School during the 1960s and 1970s.  The French government and the Centre Pompidou own several of his works.

Bobino Theatre

It was here that African-American music-hall star Josephine Baker gave her last performance in 1975. 

Baker was enjoying a successful comeback when she suffered a stroke in her bed after a show.  She was taken to the nearby hospital Pitié-Salpétière, where she died the following day. 

Her funeral procession passed in front of the Bobino before making its way to the Madeleine church, where the funeral was held.

READ ALSO Five of the best off-the-beaten track museums in Paris   

These are just some of the sites on travel company Entrée to Black Paris’s walking tour – a tour that has now developed into a live virtual tour that can be enjoyed online while Covid-related health and travel restrictions are in place.

You can find out more HERE or by emailing [email protected]