A black politician has been described as a slave in chains in a right-wing magazine, triggering a criminal investigation into racism.
Valeurs Actuelles (Valeurs Actuelles) is the subject of legal proceedings for the seven-page illustrated report on Danièle Obono, 40 years old.
Ms Obono, who is Franco-Gabonese, said she was disgusted by the cartoon and called those responsible “odious, stupid and cruel”.
The feature film, titled Obono the African, gives a fictional account of Ms. Obono returning to 18th century Africa.
It includes a cartoon where she is depicted with an iron collar around her neck.
Ms. Obono, who is Franco-Gabonese, said she was disgusted by the cartoon and described those responsible as odious, stupid and cruel ”
Following numerous other complaints – including from President Emmanuel Macron – Paris prosecutor Rémy Heitz confirmed Monday the opening of a preliminary investigation for “racist insults”.
Ms Obono said the detailed comic was an example of institutional racism in France.
Describing those responsible as “racist bullshit”, she said: “I hurt for my republic, I hurt for my France”.
Ms Obono shared a capture of the cartoon on her Twitter account, describing those responsible as “racist ***”, she said: “I hurt for my republic, I hurt for my France”
Ms. Obono, who is a member of the France Unbowed party, said the cartoon was a political attack on those who fight against “the racism and stigmatization of which millions of our compatriots are victims”.
Mr. Macron telephoned him personally on Saturday to “express his clear condemnation of any form of racism,” a spokesperson said.
The dispute is particularly inflammatory given that President Macron gave an interview to Valeurs Actuelles last year, despite his controversial reputation.
Valeurs Actuelles defended the cartoon – claiming it was part of a “summer fictional feature film” in which public figures “travel back in time.”
Ms. Obono said: “I hurt for my republic, I hurt for my France”, in response to the magazine article
A statement from the magazine rejected claims he was racist, but added that he regretted hurting Ms. Obono “personally”, adding that they “apologize to her”.
The row comes five years after millions of people around the world united under the slogan “Je Suis Charlie”, which called for giving cartoonists the freedom to draw what they liked.
Twelve staff members of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo were murdered by two Al Qaeda shooters in Paris after making fun of Muslims and other faiths.
SOS Racisme, one of France’s largest anti-racist groups, said the Valeurs Actuelles comic was typical of hate speech targeting ethnic minorities in France.
Prime Minister Jean Castex tweeted: “This shocking publication must be condemned without ambiguity. The fight against racism will always go beyond our differences. “
Mr Macron telephoned him personally on Saturday to “express his clear condemnation of any form of racism,” a spokesperson said
Elisabeth Moreno, the young equality minister and the only black member of the current French government, said she also offered her support to her left-wing parliamentary colleague.
“I do not share Danièle Obono’s ideas, but today I offer her my full support,” said Ms. Moreno.
And Richard Ferrand, the head of the National Assembly, wrote on Twitter: “By his side in the fight against racism and for the respect due to all elected officials of the Republic”.
Gabon was called the Kingdom of Orunga in the 18th century – a time when tribal leaders regularly sold their own people for profit.
In the 1780s, the country exported around 5,000 slaves a year, while buying humans for its own use in exchange for ivory.
It wasn’t until 1853 that King Ombango-Rogombe of Orunga finally agreed to permanently ban slavery.
Despite this, the Orungu continued to secretly sell members of their own community, including suspected wizards, adulterers and crooks – many of whom ended up on Portuguese slave ships.
Without the funds provided by the slave trade, the kingdom of Orungu began to collapse in the late 19th century, before coins were sold to French colonizers.
In 1910, Gabon became one of the four territories of French Equatorial Africa, before obtaining independence exactly 60 years ago, in August 1960.
Among the previous comics of the summer feature film of Valeurs Actuelle, which focused on public figures going back in time, we can cite former Prime Minister François Fillon.
Mr Fillon, who was represented during the French Revolution, was this year convicted of fraud alongside his wife of British origin, Penelope Fillon.
President Macron has pledged to fight racism in France, but refuses to remove statues of historical figures associated with the slave trade, as Black Lives Matter activists have campaigned.