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France cancels rap show at WWI centenary after far-right objects

Guillaume Souvant, AFP | French-Guinean rapper Alpha Diallo, aka "Black M", performs at the 39th edition of "Le Printemps de Bourges" rock and pop music festival in Bourges on April 28, 2015.

French authorities have pulled the plug on a popular rap star’s show during war commemorations in the town of Verdun after a clamour of criticism, notably from far-rightists who said the singer’s presence was inappropriate.


The rapper, Black M, was to have performed after a late-May memorial ceremony where Germany leader Angela Merkel and French counterpart Francois Hollande are set to mark the centenary of one of the bloodiest battles of World War One.

Verdun Mayor Samuel Hazard told local newspaper l’Est Republican he was sorry to have cancelled the concert on grounds of concerns for public order. “Kids love him ... it hurt to see our country riven by so many divisions,” he said.

Florian Philippot, second in command to far-right National Front party leader Marine Le Pen, said the decision to abandon the show was welcome, and that he failed to understand how it could ever have been programmed in the first place.

Day’s earlier, Marine Le Pen’s niece Marion Marechal Le Pen, also a National Front politician, condemned the Black M concert plan, saying the singer had in the past sung songs that spoke of France as a country of infidels.

“It’s inadmissible to involve an ‘artist’ who has insulted France so violently in any official commemoration whatsoever of our history and homage to out fighters,” she said earlier this week.

The rhetoric in question was reminiscent of terminology used by the Islamic State, she said, referring to the Islamic militant group that controls large swathes of Iraq and Syria and claimed responsibility for the attacks by gunmen and suicide bombers that killed 130 people in Paris last November.

Public support for the anti-immigrant National Front has grown over recent years in France to the point where it garnered more votes than any other party in the first round of recent regional elections.


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