France’s first black newsreader today launched an outspoken attack on the country, saying it is blighted by ‘deep-seated racism’.
It was not until 2006 that Harry Roselmack finally became the only non-white presenter on TF1, the Gallic equivalent of BBC1.
Now he is furious after monkey chants were aimed at a black minister, saying they reduced him ‘to my negro condition’.
Harry Roselmack, France’s first black newsreader, has said there is ‘deep-seated racism’ in the country.
‘Racist France is back,’ said Mr Roselmack, responding to a massive increase in popularity for the far right National Front (FN).
In a Le Monde opinion piece, he complained about ‘the deep-seated racism that withstands time and words of order, not just within the FN but in the deepest parts of French society’
An FN electoral candidate, who has since been suspended, said she would ‘rather see her in the trees than in the government’.
Children as young as ten protesting against gay marriage in Angers were also filmed waving banana skins at Ms Taubira, while shouting: ‘Who is the banana for? It is for the monkey.’
Mr Roselmack said: ‘While it is false to say all FN voters and sympathisers are racist, it is equally false to say that there is no racism in this party.
‘Xenophobia and racism are the essential glue that binds it. And it is not unhelpful to see its republican veneer crack from time to time.’
Mr Roselmack’s first appearance on TF1 seven years ago only came after the then president Jacques Chirac urged the media to hire more ethnic minority journalists following race riots.
It came as a woman from an Arab background who wanted to stand as a mayor for the FN was told by another party member: ‘You and your children are good for the oven’.
She now alleges that it is still plagued with ‘racism and homophobia’ and that ‘neo-Nazis’ are among its members.
This is despite Marine Le Pen, the FN’s leader, insisting that it is has been modernised and is fit for government.
Mrs Portheault originally wanted to run to become mayor of Saint-Alban, near Toulouse, in south-west France, using her maiden name of Djelida.
But FN executives said such an Arab name would be a ‘disability’, with one saying that immigrants from North Africa might end up in the Nazi gas chambers, like thousands of French Jews during the war.
Mrs Portheault and her husband, Thierry, said the brother-of-one activist boasted about his Swastika tattoo and hated ‘Arabs and gays’.
FN spokesman Julien Leonardelli in turn said the party ‘categorically rejected’ the Portheault’s ‘vile accusations’ and was ready to sue for libel.
Mass immigration from eastern Europe, and from Muslim countries, has been the main target of the FN’s campaigning.
They have also capitalised on the economic mismanagement of President Francois Hollande’s ruling Socialist Party, convincing Working Class voters that they are being let down.
Analysts insist that the FN win in Brignoles is a strong reflection of the national mood in France.
An Ifop poll for the Nouvel Observateur suggested last month that the FN will win 24 per cent of the vote in next May’s elections for the European Parliament.
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