Far-right mayor snubs French anti-slavery day ceremony

"It's a commemoration to gain attention as part of a permanent state of self-incrimination," explained Mayor Franck Briffaut as his reason.

Far-right mayor snubs French anti-slavery day ceremony

World Bulletin / News Desk

A newly elected mayor from France's far-right National Front refused to hold an anti-slavery ceremony in his town on Saturday, overshadowing annual events marking the abolition of human trafficking.

France holds a day of remembrance of slavery and its abolition on May 10, the date when it became the first major Western country to officially recognise the slave trade as a crime against humanity.

Several hundred protesters demonstrated in the rain and held their own commemoration in Viller-Cotterets, a small town 80 km (50 miles) northeast of Paris, after Mayor Franck Briffaut refused to hold the annual ceremony there.

The town is the final resting place of General Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, who rose to be one of revolutionary France's highest ranking military officers though born a slave in Haiti.

It is also the birthplace of his son Alexandre Dumas, the 19th-century novelist who became one of France's most famous authors. He was originally buried there but his remains were transferred to the Pantheon in Paris in 2002.

Briffaut became mayor of Viller-Cotterets in April, when his National Front won control of 11 town halls and a large district of Marseille in municipal elections around the country.

"It's a shame that the this person has not recognised that diversity is an asset for us," Minister for French Overseas Territories George Pau-Langevin said.

Polls indicate the anti-immigrant, anti-EU National Front could come out ahead of other French political parties in European Parliament elections later this month.

Defending his decision not to go head with the anti-slavery ceremony this year, Briffaut told France Info radio: "It's a commemoration to gain attention as part of a permanent state of self-incrimination."

France abolished slavery in 1794 but it was restored in 1802 before being definitively abolished in 1848. Paris has resisted calls for reparations to the descendents of victims of the slave trade. 

Güncelleme Tarihi: 11 Mayıs 2014, 11:10
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