French magazine attacks Muslim minister

A far-right weekly newspaper has caused considerable controversy after calling France’s new education minister a “Moroccan Muslim” and stating that the decision to appoint her is a “provocation.”

“The front page of the Minute is an incitement to hatred. It should be sued in court,” said Jean-Christophe Cambadelis, head of the Socialist Party, in a statement calling for the magazine to be sued.

The International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism called the cover “shameful” and contended that those “spreading hate” need to be stopped.

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the Moroccan-born education minister, is the first woman to hold the position. Soon after her appointment the magazine Minute featured her on its cover with the headline: “A Moroccan Muslim at the national education (ministry). The Najat Vallaud-Belkacem provocation.” The magazine has already come under fire in early 2014 for its comments about France’s black Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, for its headlines, “Crafty as a monkey,” and “Taubira gets her banana back.”

Vellaud-Belkacem has remained calm despite the controversy. “I keep away from this type of debate which is irrelevant,” she said, “However, I do think of those who are watching this spectacle” and could feel “contaminated.”

“In their name more than my name, I would urge those on the right to take into account their responsibilities and to respect insinuations and people,” she said. Vallaud-Belkacem holds dual French and Moroccan citizenship and calls herself “a pure product of the Republic,” and an example of “happy integration.”

Following the attacks, government spokesman Stephane Le Foll said that the minister enjoyed “the support of all the government in the face of these attacks that do those who make them no honor.”