'Anti-French racism' campaign uses Russian face
A youth group in France’s far-right National Front party launched a drive this week to highlight what they see as the growth of anti-French racism – but chose a non-French-speaking Russian model to be the face of the campaign.
France’s extreme right National Front appears to have left itself open to ridicule after its youth movement’s latest campaign aimed at highlighting anti-French racism.
The poster campaign by the National Front youth group (le Front National de la jeunesse, or FNJ) features the face of a woman painted in the colours of the French flag. She is pictured with mouth wide open as if addressing a crowd of cheering, tricolour-waving supporters.
Above her face is the campaign slogan, “Enough of anti-French racism, This is our home!”.
But France is not her home. The face chosen to represent the youth movement’s campaign is, in fact, a Russian model from St. Petersburg, who apparently speaks not a word of French.
The irony appears to have been lost on the director of the FNJ, Julien Rochedy, who has rejected the idea that there is any cause for controversy in the campaign.
'Nobody cares where she is from'
“We knew all along that this woman was from Russia, but nobody cares,” Rochedy told French daily Le Figaro.
“What is important is that her facial expression corresponds with our slogan. People are not bothered about her origin, she could quite easily be French,” said Rochedy.
The inconsistency was discovered by Mouloud Achour, who works on the daily TV show “Le Grand Journal”. Achour found the woman on Facebook, where her profile said she spoke Russian and English but not French.
It appears the FNJ bought one of the model’s photos, before superimposing the colours of the French Tricolour as well as photoshopping out an ear piercing.
As well as the poster campaign, the FNJ’s drive to highlight what they see as anti-French racism features online videos with three young people who claim to have been victims of discrimination on the grounds of their nationality.
It is not the first time a campaign by the ultra nationalist far-right party has left it open to accusations of double standards.
During Marine Le Pen’s presidential election campaign, at a time when the candidates were evoking the protectionist values of “Made in France” products, the French media revealed that the T-shirts worn by her supporters daubed with the words “Marine’s boys” were actually made in Bangladesh.
The subject of anti-French racism is not just the domain of the far right.
During the campaign to succeed Nicolas Sarkozy as head of France’s conservative UMP party last month, candidate François Copé stirred up a hornet’s nest when he complained of the growth of “anti-white racism” in certain neighbourhoods across French cities.