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Front National threatens to sue French justice minister in racist slur row

Justice Minister Chistiane Taubira speaks in the National Assembly
Justice Minister Chistiane Taubira speaks in the National Assembly Reuters/Charles Platiau

France's Front National (FN) says it will sue Justice Minister Christiane Taubira for her reaction to one of its members comparing her to an ape. On Saturday Taubira called the far-right party's politics "deadly and murderous", claiming that FN local council candidate Anne-Sophie Leclere had merely said in public what the FN thinks in private.

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Taubira did not as Leclere shot from provincial obscurity to national headlines thanks to a TV documentary that revealed she had posted a montage comparing the Guyanese-born minister to an ape on her Facebook page and showed her saying she would rather see Taubira in a tree than in a ministry.

Parliamentary elections 2012

But on Saturday, after the FN had announced that Leclere was no longer a candidate in next year's local council elections, she declared that the 33-year-old shopkeeper had "not understood that her leadership had said you've got to put up a pretence" of not being racist or bigoted.

Speaking on a visit to southern France, she went on, "We know what the FN thinks: the blacks in the branches of trees, Arabs in the sea, homosexuals in the Seine, Jews in the ovens and so on".

The FN on Sunday issued a furious statement, dubbing Taubira's words "outrageous" and, following moves to take Leclere to court for incitement to racial hatred, threatening to take the justice minister to court to "enforce respect for the rules of democratic and republican debate as well as the honour of millions of French people who vote for it".

"Nothing can justify the expression of such hatred towards an entire party and its millions of voters," it said.

Front National leader Marine Le Pen is a lawyer and frequently threatens to take legal action against her critics and recently threatened to sue media that called her party "extreme right".

She in turn faces legal action for comparing Muslims praying in the street to the German occupation of France during World War II.

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