French Minister to sue over fake Arabic memo

31st Oct 2014

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem has found herself the target of
Islamophobic attacks from the far right for her religion and Moroccan roots.

Elham Asaad Buaras

France’s newly appointed Education Minister announced on September 8 that she will be taking legal action over identity fraud after a fake letter advising French towns to offer a weekly Arabic language class in primary schools circulated on the Internet in her name.

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, a rising star in French politics who is the first woman to hold the office of education minister, has found herself the target of Islamophobic attacks from the far right for her Moroccan roots.

Vallaud-Belkacem’s appointment as France’s first woman education minister in a reshuffle was taken by many right wingers as a “provocation”. This was the word used by the far-right magazine, Minute, on its front cover. While Valeurs Actuelles carried less flattering photo of Vallaud-Belkacem with the front-page headline “L’Ayatollah”.

The memo, complete with fake letterhead and a forged signature, said an official from the ministry would be contacting town halls shortly “to offer a voluntary hour per week to discover the Arabic language”.

“I strongly advise you to give the green light to this activity, which aims at breaking down the linguistic barriers that our children could encounter in the near future,” the document said.

The letter circulated widely on social networks in France, especially on Twitter.

“The education ministry files sue every time there is a case of identity fraud,” said a spokesman for Vallaud-Belkacem.

The apparent forgers made a series of errors, notably with the name of the ministry itself, which they called simply the “Ministry for National Education” instead of its full title, the “Ministry for National Education, Higher Education and Research”.

In addition, it does not fall within the ministry’s purview to offer extracurricular activities, which are organised on a local level, the ministry said.

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