France wants Macron’s answers on viruses, jobs and racism

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There are also increasing calls to reassess France’s colonial heritage, causing division within Macron’s own camp.

In the past two days, the Minister of Culture has denounced the decision to cancel a screening in Paris of “Gone with the Wind” – a film long criticized as romanticizing slavery – as contrary to freedom of expression . And he strongly condemned activists who attempted to take a piece of African art from a Paris museum dedicated to works of art from former colonies.

But government minister Sibeth Ndiaye – a close ally of Macron and the most prominent black figure in current French politics – wrote in Saturday’s Le Monde an unusually personal essay calling on France to rethink its colorblind doctrine, which aims to encourage equality by completely ignoring race.

“Do not hesitate to name things, to say that a skin color is not neutral,” she writes. She called on the French to “confront our memories” with their history and find a “shared story” with the former colonies.

Macron’s office firmly denied a report last week that it planned to resign and call an early election, but the rumor reflected the severity of the French mood.

A new forecast last week from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development showed that the French economy would suffer more than most from the next recession – and should not improve much by the next presidential election in 2022.

The economy is expected to shrink at least 11% percent this year, pushing many unemployed and torpedoing Macron’s goals of reducing unemployment, reorganizing the pension system and making France more competitive globally.

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Follow AP pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak, and coverage of protests against racial injustice and police brutality at https://apnews.com/GeorgeFloyd

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