France: Young Muslims shouldn't speak slang, says minister

France: Young Muslims shouldn't speak slang, says minister

The Secretary of State for Family, Nadine Morano said Monday that young French Muslims should not speak slang (verlan) and wear their caps backwards, during a debate on national identity in Charmes (Vosges)

Asked by a young man about the compatibility of Islam with the Republic, Morano said that being French was not an ID or a payslip, but rather loving France. She then said she wants young French Muslims who live in France to love their country, to find a job, not to speak slang and not to wear their caps backwards.

The town was chosen by evening's organizer, deputy Jean-Jacques Gaultier (UMP) because it's the birthplace of the nationalist and anti-Dreyfusard novelist Maurice Barrès. About fifty activists of the NPA, Left Party and Greens protested in front of the municipality against this tribute to the writer.

Benoît Hamon of the Socialist Party, said that it's very serious since it confirms the caricature that some ministers have of the youth of French, the incredible generalization of young Muslims who are suspected of not looking for a job, who have a 'uniform' (backwards hat), and who do not speak French properly since they speak in slang.

Morano said her remarks had been "taken out of context".

"I was saying that with this caricature, and the stigmatisation that exists, I would advise them not only to wear their cap straight and not speak slang, but I explained also (they should) use the potential of their double culture," she said on Tuesday.

Campaign group SOS Racisme described her words as "another blunder" in the debate, which has sharpened sensitivities over France's Muslim majority - Europe's biggest - and been cast as a government attempt to win right-wing votes.

"They are part of a long series of racist and stigmatising comments made during the debates on national identity," the association said in a statement.

Morano's claim was supported by Amed Bellal, a regional Muslim community leader who was at the debate. He said that Morano "absolutely did not stigmatise the Muslim religion".

Sources: AFP, Metro (French), IOL (English)

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