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Far-right councillor faces suspension over slur on black minister

AFP archive picture: Christiane Taubira

A regional councillor belonging to France’s far-right National Front (FN) faces suspension from the party for comparing the country’s black Justice Minister Christiane Taubira to a monkey on Twitter.

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Olivier Burlats, who sits on the council for the Haute-Savoie region of eastern France, posted a picture on his Twitter feed showing a monkey riding a bike in response to a tweet by Taubira, who is a keen cyclist.

The anti-immigration and anti-Europe FN, which is keen to shake off its historic image as a party of racist bigots, told Europe 1 radio on Friday that Burlats had been “suspended from the party pending a disciplinary hearing”.

It is not the first time Taubira, who supported gay marriage legislation which was vigorously opposed by the French far-right, has been subjected to racist abuse.

In October 2013 she was subjected to at least three overtly racist slurs in as many weeks, beginning with a 12-year-old at an anti-gay marriage demonstration approaching the minister to offer her a banana.

Later in October Anne-Sophie Leclère, an FN candidate for the 2014 local elections, said she would prefer to see Taubira "in a tree swinging from the branches rather than in government”. Leclère was jailed for nine months in July and banned from politics for five years.

And in early November 2013 she was once again compared to a monkey when far-right magazine Minute running ran the headline: “Crafty as a monkey, Taubira gets her banana back.” (The French phrase “to get your banana back” also means putting a smile back on your face).

Minute is currently being prosecuted for the slur. On Wednesday, French prosecutors said they wanted its editor to be fined 10,000 euros and handed a 3-month suspended sentence for slandering the minister.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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