Minister faces race charge

November 10, 1995

(Photograph) - Court proceedings went ahead this week against Jean de Boishue, the French secretary of state for higher education, over allegedly racist passages in a book he published last May.

Banlieue Mon Amour draws vignettes of Paris suburb dwellers, based on his experience as a suburban mayor. Allegations of racism arose over the sketches of immigrants, described in sweeping stereotypes - the "wandering Jew", the African "great inseminator" and Arabs who are "recently released slaves".

Mr de Boishue lost his government post during the day of the court hearing over his book. The court will rule on the case before the end of next month.

The polemic over the book is thought to have played a role in the secretary of state's fortunes.

Last Tuesday, the court heard the case filed by Steevie Gustave, a young choreographer of Caribbean origin, who alleges that one detailed sketch clearly refers to him and his dead father.

Gustave lived in a suburb where de Boishue is mayor and clashed with him in the past over demands for leisure facilities for young people. The father of Gustave, a soldier, was killed in action in Djibouti in 1983.

In the book a character, Tom, who like Gustave asked the council for a dance hall, has a father killed by a bullet which "pierced the bone of his flattened nose, broke it and drove under his black skin".

The passage ends with the comment: "If his father had not wanted to put on a pair of shoes, he would never have dressed in a soldier's uniform." Another court case over the book was cancelled when an association, SOS-Racisme, settled out of court.

* French education minister Francois Bayrou shed his three secretaries of state and climbed to the number three position in the cabinet in this week's government shake-up.

Although a new secretary of state has replaced Elizabeth Dufourq, Mr Bayrou will now take entire charge of higher education and schools. Faced with pockets of growing student protest over university conditions, Mr Bayrou announced earlier this week that an emergency plan will be drawn up for the most needy universities.

Mr de Boishue and Farancoise Hostalier, secretary of state for schools, are not being replaced.

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