Court drops 'insult to nation' case against rapper

28th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

Shortly after last year’s suburban riots, France targeted its homegrown hip-hop music for vilification. With the unrest now settled, a court throws out its case against rapper Monsieur R.


A French court on Monday threw out a case brought by a ruling party deputy against a rap artist accused of insulting the French nation in his lyrics.

Daniel Mach filed suit against rapper Monsieur R, real name Richard Makela, last year, accusing him of "outrage to social decency" over a song whose lyrics describe France as a "bitch" to be "screwed until she drops."

He accused the rapper of "disseminating a violent, pornographic or undignified message that is accessible to minors" in the song, in which he also threatens to "piss on Napoleon and the General de Gaulle."

*quote1*The song's video clip shows bare-chested women in alluring poses, and a montage of images criticising French policies in its former colonies and the high-immigration suburbs hit by rioting last year.

The court ruled that the deputy was not qualified to bring charges against the rapper, since he was not the father of minor children and therefore had no personal interest in the case.

"Today's verdict is a victory for freedom of expression," Makela told reporters following the hearing south of Paris.

MC beats the rap in French court

Monsieur R was one of six French rap and hip-hop outfits accused of inciting racism and hatred in a petition signed by more than 200 French lawmakers in the wake of November's riots.

Backers of the initiative argued that rap music — which has long been used to protest about life in France's run-down suburbs, littered with references to police harassment and discrimination — helped to provoke the riots.

*quote2*Deputies of the ruling centre-right UMP party recently submitted a bill in parliament aimed at securing convictions against rap artists who incite "anti-white" hatred in their lyrics.

But rights groups condemn such moves, saying hip-hop music is a legitimate and important artistic outlet for young people in immigrant communities.

Last week a French court confirmed the acquittal of another French rap artist, Sniper, who was sued by the interior ministry over a song denouncing police as "murderers." The prosecution has said it will appeal.

June 2006

Copyright AFP

Subject: Living in France

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