With a compelling character, political talent and outspoken criticism of President Nicolas Sarkozy, Human Rights Minister Ramatoulaye Yade is emerging as France’s most popular political figure. She had never run for political office until chosen by Sarkozy as a spokesperson for his presidential campaign. Yade was appointed as France’s first-ever minister for human rights in May 2007. Her father is a Senegalese diplomat and politician. Despite her Muslim faith, she was educated at a Catholic school. Some warn that like Rachida Dati, the other high-profile “minority” minister, her popularity may wane quickly.
President Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday sent a strong signal to France’s disaffected minorities by appointing an outspoken advocate of Muslim women and a woman of Senegalese origin Tuesday to his government – among France’s most diverse ever. As junior minister for city policy, feminist activist Fadela Amara will oversee the renovation of dilapidated housing estates where many immigrants live – neighborhoods similar to the one she grew up in with her Algerian immigrant parents. Senegalese-born Rama Yade was appointed to a new post of junior minister for human rights, an area Sarkozy has identified as a priority for his month-old government, which he reshuffled and expanded Tuesday after his governing conservative party did not fare as well as expected in weekend parliamentary elections.