French Court Tosses Out Case Against Rapper

Cbc.ca, June 26, 2006

A French court has thrown out a controversial case against a rapper known as “Monsieur R” that focussed on a song comparing France to a slut and the government to the Third Reich.

The song in question is called FranSSe and it repeatedly talks about France as a “bitch” that needs to be taken until exhaustion. In the song, the rapper also says that he relieves himself on Napoleon and General Charles De Gaulle. The song is featured in the rapper’s 2005 album, Politikment Incorrekt.

The accompanying video to FranSSe shows archival images of atrocities in Africa cut with naked white women playing with the French flag. It’s not allowed to be played on television.

French politicians were outraged by the song and the video by “Monsieur R,” whose real name is Richard Makela. They also blamed his album for inciting some of the riots that burned through Paris suburbs and other towns in November.

Late last year, French MP Daniel Mach decided to take the rapper to court on charges of broadcasting a violent or pornographic message, accessible to those under 18 years of age. Mach also proposed a law making it a criminal offence to insult the dignity of France and the French state.

Makela faced a three-year prison term or a 75,000 euro fine.

‘The judges have been courageous…’-Lawyer Dominique Tricaud

In Monday’s ruling, the court said the MP had not himself suffered any harm and that there were no real victims. Dominique Tricaud, the artist’s lawyer called the ruling good news for France’s freedom of expression.

“The judges have been courageous in their judgment because there was very strong political pressure. Two hundred deputies from the parliament asked for a special law from the parliament against the rappers. They wanted to kill the rap in France.”

The rapper, born in Belgium, says the song is an artistic metaphor and that he meant to denounce what he calls the neo-colonialism of the French government.

Makela told French daily Le Parisien in May that he was rapping against the system: “You can have a critical view of the French state without being anti-French or racist.”

The case is the latest in a string of disputes between French officials and rappers. In 2003, Nicolas Sarkozy, the interior minister, brought a criminal case against the rap band Sniper, saying their music was anti-Semitic and racist. That case was also thrown out.

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