News Agencies – December 14, 2011
Rachida Dati, the first Muslim woman of North African origin to hold a senior French government post, focused a public complaint against the prime minister, François Fillon, in whose cabinet she served as justice minister. Fillon, she wrote in a scathing letter to Le Monde, represented a staid political elite that “never favoured women” and stopping ethnic-minority candidates from running for election.
Dati said she had a “duty of resistance” against the “lone ambition of the powerful”. The ferocious language stems from a row over who will run for a safe Right-wing parliamentary seat representing the affluent 5th, 6th and 7th arrondissements on Paris’s Left bank.
This article in the the Guardian profiles Rachida Dati (b. 1965), former French justice minister, which she stepped down from in May 2009. She has come under scrutiny for her fashion sense and as a single mother of Algerian-origin. She was the second of 12 children born to north African immigrant parents, neither of whom could read or write, and yet by the time she was 41, she occupied one of the most senior roles in government as President Sarkozy’s justice minister, the first woman of Arab descent to be given a key ministerial position in the French cabinet. At 44, she is now a single mother to a one-year-old daughter, a member of the European parliament and the mayor of the 7th arrondissement in Paris. Dati believes the criticism she faces springs from class resentment more than anything else.
Dati is unequivocal in her support for banning the burka in public institutions, an issue currently being debated in France. “When you are part of a society, the first foundation of this social contract is trust,” she says. “To be totally hidden, to not show one’s face, is a challenge to that trust and one cannot construct a society without trust in each other… [the burka] does not correspond to our values.”
Former French President Jacques Chirac has emerged as a spokesperson of sorts for Holocaust instruction in Muslim countries. Chirac’s popularity in parts of the Arab world and his history of making clear statements about France’s responsibility in the World War II destruction of Europe’s Jews accords him, according to this IHT feature, a unique place in talking about the relationship of racism and anti-Semitism to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Chirac said he had no intention “to place on Muslim countries a responsibility” for the Holocaust “that isn’t theirs” but stressed the importance of “making the Shoah known while removing it from the silence that people have built up around it in many countries.” “It’s been hidden,” Chirac said, “because referring to the Shoah in these countries has risked creating sympathy for the Jews and Israel.”
Former French actor and animal activist Brigitte Bardot went on trial in a Paris courtroom charged with inciting racial hatred over remarks made in a letter to French president Nicolas Sarkozy in December 2006 regarding the Muslim festival of Aïd el-Kebir and the slaughter of sheep. Bardot wrote, I am fed up with being under the thumb of a population which is destroying us, destroying our country and imposing its acts. The letter was later published by Bardot’s foundation. This is the fifth time Bardot has been charged with inciting racial hatred since 1997. 73 year-old Bardot did not attend the court in person, claiming she was physically unwell. She may receive a fine of 15.000 Euros and a two-month prison sentence. The decision will be rendered on June 3rd.