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 Festival ban on 'French Eminem' sparks censorship row

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PostSubject: Festival ban on 'French Eminem' sparks censorship row   Wed Jul 15, 2009 1:39 pm

Festival ban on 'French Eminem' sparks censorship rowGovernment goes from criticising Orelsan to defending him – after rapper is dropped from event in Socialist Ségolène Royal's region
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Angelique Chrisafis Paris guardian.co.uk, Monday 13 July 2009 16.07 BST Article historyHe is known as the French Eminem: a middle-class teacher's son from a dull town in lower Normandy who raps about the rural drug epidemic, boredom and the hopelessness of French provincial teenagers.

But ever since the political class expressed outrage at a song from Orelsan's back catalogue in which he once sang about grotesque violence against a girlfriend who cheated on him, the 26-year-old rap star has become the centre of a national debate over censorship.

The row escalated today as politicians from all political parties waded in to express disgust that Orelsan – real name Aurelien Contentin – had been dropped from the lineup of one of France's most important summer music festivals, the Francofolies at La Rochelle.

Nicolas Sarkozy's ruling centre-right UMP party, which earlier this year led criticism of Orelsan's song, Sale Pute (Dirty Slut), has now issued a statement saying it was "intolerable" to censor an artist. The party rounded on the Socialist Ségolène Royal, head of the western region where the festival takes place, saying she was "attacking freedom of expression".

Earlier this month, Royal told a local paper she was happy Orelsan's appearance had been pulled and that she had written to the festival for "clarification" on his part in the lineup.

Jack Lang, the Socialist and former culture minister, warned of a culture of "moral censorship" in France. He said the move to axe Orelsan was symptomatic of broader attacks against freedom of expression by local councils of all political persuasions. Last month, Orelsan's new album was pulled from all Paris's municipal libraries, prompting the League for Human Rights to appeal to Paris's Socialist head of culture to think again.

Orelsan today told French radio his removal from the Francofolies festival was "really abhorrent". He stressed that he no longer sang Sale Pute on stage, having removed it from his website, and that those censoring him had not seen his act. He said he wanted a meeting with the new culture minister, Frédéric Mitterrand.

Several other French singers made statements in his support. One of them, Cali, said the festival had totally discredited itself. In a letter made public by Orelsan's record company, Cali said: "There will be a before and an after Orelsan. For my part, I'll boycott all these muzzled places – with sadness but conviction."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jul/13/orelsan-french-rapper-francofolies-rochelle
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