Mixed reactions after Muslim rapper booked to play at Bataclan

The controversial rapper Médine will perform two shows in October at the Bataclan. The 35-year French-Algerian Muslim, who describes himself as an “Islamo-racaille” (“Islamo-hooligan”), is known for his provocative songs about Islam and laïcité. The controversy stems from his 2005 album Jihad, the Greatest Battle Is Against Oneself, which includes calls to “crucify secularists like in Golgotha” and statements such as: “I launch fatwas on the heads of idiots”.

Marine Le Pen tweeted: “No French person can accept that this guy spews out his rubbish at the scene of the Bataclan massacre.” “We have had enough of complacency and worse, of this incitement to Islamist fundamentalism,” she added in a tweet.

The hashtag #PasDeMédineAuBataclan (#NoToMédineAtTheBataclan) has been gathering support on Twitter.

On Saturday, one National Rally member launched a petition saying it would be “the height of indecency” for Médine to perform; it has gathered more than 21,000 signatures in a matter of days.

A co-founder of the French rap website Booska-P, who goes by the name Fif, thanked Ms. Le Pen for the attention she was bringing to Médine. He predicted that the rapper would sell out a third night at the Bataclan as a result.

Republicans leader Laurent Wauquiez said he was shocked that “someone who sings about ‘crucifying secularists’ and calls himself ‘Islamo-scum'” would appear at the venue “less than three years after Islamist barbarism cost the lives of 90 of our compatriots.” “It is sacrilege and dishonors France,” he tweeted.

The former leader of one of the Bataclan’s victims’ groups, Emmanuel Domenach, replied to both Wauquiez and Le Pen’s tweets: “It’s crazy for you to use the victims of terrorism for your sterile controversy. “What level of dishonor does that put you in?” he asked.

Fans of the rapper took to social media to dismiss the politicians as “buffoons” who had misread his lyrics and were “incapable of understanding a simple quotation”.

Medine himself later hit back in a statement to AFP saying, “Can we let the extreme right dictate what concerts go on and our freedom of expression?” “For 15 years I have fought all forms of radicalization in my albums which has led to me being attacked by the extreme right and their supporters, who twist the meaning of my songs,” he added.

The victims’ group Life for Paris also defended the Bataclan, saying it was against censorship and that the venue should be free to book who it wanted. “We will not let anyone use the memory of the victims for political ends, as is the case here,” it said in a statement.

However, Aurore Berge, an MP from President Emmanuel Macron’s party, said having him headline a concert at the Bataclan was an “insult” to the victims of the slaughter.

Bruno Retailleau, the leader of the opposition Republicans in the French Senate called on the government to use “the same weapons against this rapper as those used against Dieudonné.”

Caroline Wassermann, a lawyer for nine victims of the Bataclan attack, said on Monday that she would write to the Paris police and to the French culture minister to ask for the shows to be canceled. “We cannot be silent about this,” Ms. Wassermann said in a telephone interview. “This guy, Médine, can sing every song he wants elsewhere, but in the Bataclan — it’s a sanctuary — it’s not possible because of the subjects he sings about.”

When asked about Médine’s history of criticizing Islamist terrorism, Ms. Wasserman said that did not matter, because he had criticized the French way of life.

Former interior minister Brice Hortefeux hinted that he would have brought charges against Medine for the lyrics of “Don’t Laik” and another song called “Jihad.” “When I was interior minister my hand did not tremble, I consistently brought charges against rappers like this,” he told BFMTV.

Socialist leader Olivier Faure said he was against banning the shows but said Medine “should ask himself if he should play in such a highly symbolic place.”

Jean-François Copé, the mayor of Meaux, near Paris, and a former head of The Republicans, said it was “intolerable and completely mad” to allow Médine to perform at the Bataclan. He demanded that President Emmanuel Macron ban the concert.

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