The outcome of its most recent presidential election notwithstanding, it appears that there is still hope for France. Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris, has ordered a black feminist festival to be shut down after learning that the event was largely closed off to white people, suggesting that she may even prosecute the organizers for racism.
The controversial gathering, called the Nyansapo Festival, is set to run from July 28-30 in Paris and has advertised itself as “an event rooted in black feminism, activism, and on (a) European scale.” Sure enough, 80 percent of the festival – held in a public cultural center – would only be accessible by black women, while another space would be open to all black people. A small area would be “open to all.”
Hidalgo quickly took issue with the event and moved to stop it from happening on the grounds that it was unfairly discriminatory toward white people.
“I am asking for this festival to be banned,” she said, noting that she is weighing the option “to prosecute the organizers for discrimination.”
Anti-racism and anti-discrimination organizations across France have also blasted the festival in their own strongly-worded condemnations, with SOS Racisme characterizing the Nyansapo Festival as “a mistake, even an abomination, because it wallows in ethnic separation, whereas anti-racism is a movement which seeks to go beyond race.
Some critics even referenced the American civil rights movement in demonizing the event, with the International League against Racism and Antisemitism insisting that “Rosa Parks would be turning in her grave.”
News of the festival first appears to have crossed Hidalgo’s desk when Wallerand de Saint-Just, regional head of the same Front National party to which defeated presidential candidate Marine Le Pen belongs, asked the mayor to explain how the city could host such a “blatantly racist and anti-republican” event.