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Islamophobic France: Muslim Education Minister Targeted


This is the first time that I’ve heard of an “Ayatollah” supporting ‘gay marriage.’

Star Tribune

PARIS — France’s new Muslim education minister called for more respect Wednesday after becoming the target of slurs, while a top Socialist politician said a magazine should be convicted of inciting racial hatred for referring to her religion and ethnic background as a “provocation.”

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, a 36-year-old rising star in the Socialist Party, said she has been the target of racially-motivated verbal attacks over the last week, including being branded “Ayatollah” by a conservative weekly.

“I call for respect,” she told The Associated Press in an email. “And I repeat in particular that racism is not an opinion, but a crime.”

The Morocco-born Vallaud-Belkacem, who doesn’t publicly speak about her religion, is seen as an easy target to attack the unpopular Socialist government led by President Francois Hollande.

She is a young, Muslim woman in a political landscape made up mostly of white, Catholic men. She’s an outspoken defender of gender and racial equality, and supported a divisive law legalizing gay marriage last year. She also intervened in a national debate on the negative impact of halal meat, saying society should stop pointing the finger at Muslims.

One conservative politician referred to Vallaud-Belkacem as a “smiling Vietnamese Communist,” and a fake identity card has appeared on social media falsely claiming she changed her name from Claudine Dupont to a more ethnic-sounding one to get promoted.

A top Socialist Party official threatened legal action against “Minute” magazine, which in its latest edition calls her religious and ethnic background a “provocation.” The official, Jean-Christophe Cambadelis, said the magazine should be convicted of inciting racial hatred.

“Minute,” which has sympathies with France’s ever-growing far-right National Front party, faced accusations of racism last year when it put black Justice Minister Christiane Taubira on the cover with the wording: “Taubira Finds Her Banana.”

Taubira tweeted in support of Vallaud-Belkacem: “They must have nothing in their heads, be empty in their heart, and have hardened souls. Najat, you’re flying high with our ambitions for schools. Thanks.”

Valeurs Actuelles’ cover, to be published Thursday, features the headline “Ayatollah” over a sinister-looking photo of the minister’s face.

The publication’s general director said the reference to Islam was purely coincidental despite an outcry that it was racist— and he said the criticism is purely about politics.

“We speak of ‘Ayatollah’ with no reference to the Muslim religion whatsoever … We’re concerned that her nomination poses a problem as she’s pursuing an ideology in schools that worries us,” Yves de Kerdrel told the AP without elaborating.

Government spokesman Stephane Le Foll said, “You can be in disagreement. But we cannot accept these kind of attacks.”

France has Western Europe’s largest Muslim population, estimated at 5 million.

French rights group, SOS Racism, meanwhile, issued a petition in her defense, which has been signed by more than 4,000 people.

Some commentators insist the criticism against her has nothing to do with religion or her sex.

“She just has no competence in education.” Versailles deputy mayor Francois-Xavier Bellamy said.

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  • Jekyll

    Indeed, thinking cooning for French liberte, egalite, fraternite would give them some pat on the back. But they get smacked. As long as they have a shroud of Islam in them, not good enough.

  • The greenmantle

    oh oh oh

    Sir David

  • Reynardine

    Well, they have fallen as low as Fox News.

  • Mehdi

    You’re not dyslexic in terms of languages, just an Englishman 🙂

  • Mehdi

    Believe it or not, it does. Not any priest, the arrangements are complex. Even the Paris Mosque has a complex funding arrangement. It’s a 109 year old compromise.

    As for Gay marriage, the reason why it went so crazy was political, the right would have legalized it had Sarkozy won in 2012, but instead they decided to use it as a platform to attack Hollande (especially as they couldn’t criticize his economic policies which were a continuation of Sarkozy’s). This is why there was unleash of polemics, attacks, many of them racist.
    As you rightly say, the Gay marriage is not religious, catholics or evangelicals or others are not harmed by it and it won’t change anything about their life. But that’s a different debate.

  • The greenmantle

    Does the French State still pays many of the bills for the Catholic Church ? My taxes ! ok a very small amount but its the principle .
    If so thats nuts . He who pays the piper decides the tune .
    In the UK the Church is official but gets no money 🙂
    The Gay Marriage thing went through on the nod in the UK no one really objected as in Britain the govt said its up to the church in question . ( The Catholics, evangelicals , Muslims and Orthodox Jews said no thanks – end of story , the others are free to do what they want )

    Sir David

  • The greenmantle

    It was difficult enough teaching me the French Language never mind the other stuff . Lucky I am now dyslexic in two languages
    Sir David

  • The greenmantle

    Very strong here in Angers we even have a Catholic University.
    We had our own demonstrations against Marriage equality , it was like the worst dressed person in the world competition .
    and lots of white collars
    Sir David

  • Tanveer ¯_(ツ)_/¯ Khan

    You need to integrate and assimilate into France, Sir David. I guess you weren’t taught French Values at school. 😉

  • Mehdi

    The separation of state and church dates back to 1905, it was due to the complicated relations between the French republic and the Catholic Church/Vatican, for which the Monarchy was a strong ally before the revolutions (not only the 1789, but also the 2 others in the 19th century). The Church was not thrilled with the changes happening in France and was also allied to the “bourgeoisie” against the demands of the Labour movement.
    The 1905 law was a compromise as the state separated from the Church, but many financing measures were set, to pay wages for priests, or maintaining the actual churches. But the main change was that France didn’t have an official religion anymore, the state guaranteed freedom of religion for people, while the church would not intervene in state affairs, especially public education (people who want a catholic education can go to private schools). This is why many French believe that religion is a personal affair.
    The problem is that in the last 20 years, secularism has almost become a religion from a fundamentalist perspective, the catholic church is fighting to intervene more in public education, whereas most parties are now using secularism to target Islam and Muslims, which is a complete distortion of what the 1905 law was endorsing.

  • Jekyll

    But the espirit catholique is still around ?….

  • The greenmantle

    In France they believe that the roles of the state and religion are seperate .
    Which is frankly as believeable as Green Fairys being the cause of dandruff.
    But hey ho its the way they are .
    The french as a whole dont even like to discuss religion any time any place , its private and you arnt supposed to talk about it .
    I’ve been told this many times I ignore it cause Im a brit 🙂 and I like asking questions

    Sir David

  • Anonymous

    Unfortunately these days being religious is a provocation to some people

  • Mehdi


  • The greenmantle

    I remember when Christine Taubira visited Angers . Some rightwing idiots encouraged their children to throw bannanas .
    Same rightwing idiots recently helped the new mayor of Angers into power

    Sir David

  • Mehdi

    Agreed, this is consistent with the racist attacks against Christiane Taubira around one year ago.

  • The greenmantle

    It is a provocation if you believe that the church should be running the schools like it used to

    Sir David

  • The greenmantle

    Not forgetting the fact that the catholic church was behind many demonstrations against the law legalising gay marriage 🙂
    Having a big pile of sexism on top of the racism plus hypocracy thats the ticket . The fact that the mosques are not into gay marriage either seems to have passed them bye
    One of her qualifications is I suspect is the ability to stand up to the catholic church and its attempts to get back to controling the education system. It cannot be claimed that she favours them in any way .

    Sir David

  • Laurent Weppe

    She’s an outspoken defender of gender and racial equality, and supported a divisive law legalizing gay marriage last year

    Indeed: by calling her “l’Ayatollah” the magazine actually meant “the feminist Ayatollah”: in other words, you have a big pile on sexism on top of the racism (unless it’s the racism that goes on top of the sexism, at this point it’s kinda hard to differentiate).

    Also, the legalization of gay marriage was divisive only because indulging in shameless bad faith is a national past-time: when Sarkozy was president, nearly three fifth of conservative voters favored legalizing gay marriage, but once Hollande set foo in the presidential palace, two third of conservative voters opposed it… loudly. Basically, they were ok with gay-marriage, so long as their team was the one introducing the reform: as I said, arguing in bad-faith is national past-time.

  • mindy1

    So being Muslim is a provocation??? What does France want, allegiance to the louve’?

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