Don't scapegoat the hip-hoppers: Villepin

25th November 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Nov 25 (AFP) - Prime minister Dominique de Villepin warned on Friday against scapegoating French rap musicians for the country's recent riots, after several hundred lawmakers accused rappers of inciting the violence.

PARIS, Nov 25 (AFP) - Prime minister Dominique de Villepin warned on Friday against scapegoating French rap musicians for the country's recent riots, after several hundred lawmakers accused rappers of inciting the violence.

"Is rap to blame for the crisis in the suburbs? No," Villepin told French radio RTL, although he said musicians and writers should be responsible for their works.

"All calls to hatred, all calls to violence, to intolerance, to racism and anti-Semitism, are naturally condemned in our country," Villepin said. "Whenever there is an incitement to hatred, the courts can be called upon to act."

More than 200 French lawmakers this week lodged a petition with justice minister Pascal Clement, accusing seven French rap outfits of inciting racism and hatred through their song lyrics and calling for them to face legal action.

The conservative deputy behind the initiative, François Grosdidier, argued that rap helped to provoke the weeks of violence in poor, high-immigration French suburbs in late October and early November.

One of the rappers targeted, Monsieur R, real name Richard Makela, is also facing a separate court case for "outrage to social decency" over a song whose lyrics describe France as a "bitch" to be "screwed until she drops".

The rights group SOS Racisme condemned the lawmakers' petition on Thursday, saying the rap and hip-hop culture was an important outlet for young people in immigrant communities to express their hopes and frustrations.

"It is precisely when kids are no longer able to put what they feel into words that violence can take the upper hand," said a statement from the group.

French rap artists have long used rap and hip-hop music to protest about life in run-down suburbs, their lyrics littered with references to police harassment and discrimination and warning of "a day of reckoning" for such injustices.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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