A new racism-related controversy has been sparked by a far-right magazine in France. This publication – Valeurs Actuelles – targeted a black member of the French National Assembly, Danielle Obono, in an article. However, the problem was an illustration that was at the head of the article which showed the lawmaker wearing an iron collar and chains.

This was an indirect way of calling her a slave – something that is unquestionably racist. Obono belongs to the France Unbowed Party, considered to be ultra-left in the political landscape of the French Republic.

Condemnation for this act has come from across the political spectrum, from left to right. The targeted politician herself took to Twitter to hit back at the magazine. "Apparently, you can still write racist sh*t illustrated by the images of a black African French MP repainted as a slave... The extreme right – odious, stupid and cruel. In brief, like itself," she wrote on her timeline.

Danielle Obono
The depiction of lawmaker which caused the problem Twitter

All-round condemnation

President Emmanuel Macron also came out strongly against this act of the magazine and even called the lawmaker to express his sympathies with her on this issue. He "expressed his clear condemnation of any form of racism," his office informed.

Interestingly though, Macron, who has positioned itself as a centrist and reconciliatory leader who seeks to rise above ideological vitriol actually gave an interview to the magazine in question. He even praised the publication for being a "good magazine."

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a press conference after the European Union's Informal Summit in Salzburg, Austria, Sept. 20, 2018. (Xinhua/Ye Pingfan/IANS)
French President Emmanuel Macron has spoken in support of Obono IANS

Macron has even sought to strike a balance on the question of how to deal with the racist element in the history of France. While committing himself to removing racism from French society, he has refused to endorse the idea of pulling down statues of French personalities from the past who are known to have been part of slave trade and colonialism, in imitation of what's happening in USA.

France's racial issues

In the present controversy, even the right-wing National Rally party, which was known earlier as National Front, and which too has been accused of being extremist, has criticised the magazine. One of their leaders said the story was "in absolute bad taste."

France has its own issues of racism that it is dealing with. There have been protests inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement in the USA and people have pointed out the disturbing similarities between the murder of George Floyd and a similar incident in France involving a black man who also suffocated to death while being held down by the police.