Far right protesters mar Miss Black France contest
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Ultra-nationalists from the group New France protested outside the first ever Miss Black France beauty pageant in Paris on Saturday. They were demanding a white-only version of the competition.
Riot police were called to contain a potentially volatile situation between ultra-nationalists demonstrators and spectators of Miss Black France. A group of some 30 members of Nouvelle France, or New France chanted slogans and held a banner, which read: When will there be a Miss White France?
The group has a "nationalist" agenda but does not align itself with the Front National political party of Marine Le Pen, which won over 20 per cent of the vote in the first round of the presidential elections. A group member, who asked to remain anonymous, told RFI:
"France should be for French people. Why should Asians and Africans come here and have more rights than us? This is why we are demanding a Miss White France," he said.
Miss Black France is the first competition of its kind and is endorsed by the Representative Council of Black Associations and Miss France. Critics say it goes against one the founding principles of the French Republic - equality. Both Britian and the United States have black-only beauty pagaents.
Miss France was established in 1927 and is open to applications from all women of French nationality. A Rwandan-born model, Sonia Rolland, won the competition in 2000. But Frederic Royer, the organizer of Miss Black France, told RFI that racism is rife in France's fashion industry.
"All the black models tell me they can't find work in France, so they are going to London and New York. French magazines also never feature black women on their covers," he said. Most models who took part in Miss Black France echoed Royer's view in their introductory statements.
Twenty-two models between the ages of 19 and 28 were selected from 1,000 entrants. The eventual winner was Mbathio Beye, a 21-year-old Senegalese-born student.
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