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Outrage sparked by French flag bottom-wiping photo

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-04-22

A photograph of a French flag being used instead of toilet paper is stirring passions in the south-east city of Nice, with France’s Justice Minister calling for “criminal prosecution”.

A photograph of a man wiping his rear with the French flag has prompted France’s Minister of Justice Michele Alliot-Marie to demand the "criminal prosecution” of its authors.

The photograph won a special prize in a photo contest organised in Nice by FNAC, the French book and music store giant. The photograph, entered in the “politically incorrect” category, was then published on March 19 by the free newspaper Metro.

A spokesperson for Alliot-Marie said the minister was confident that those who desecrated the French flag could be punished under French law. "If the current law proves to be unsatisfactory on this point, then it should be changed," the spokesperson added.

Eric de Montgolfier, the state prosecutor in Nice, told news agency AFP that he had been made aware of the photograph by Eric Ciotti, president of the Alpes-Maritime regional council.

In a letter, Ciotti asked Minister Alliot-Marie to “please consider initiating proceedings against the perpetrators of these acts.”

“I want whoever committed this outrage to be penalized, and possibly those who published [the photo] too” Ciotti wrote.

FNAC’s regional director issued an apology Wednesday “to all those who have been shocked by the picture”, and said the photo would immediately be removed from the list of winners.

The Metro newspaper said it had only “reported on a local event”. “The question is what are the limits of art, provocation and freedom of expression," said Frederick Vézard, the daily’s editorial director.

Date created : 2010-04-21