PARIS - France's left-wing parties came in support of the Morocco-French minister of culture, Rachida Dati, a right-wing politician after a renowned journalist referred to the North African minister using a racist slur.

"There are also people who identify with her (Rachida Dati) because she's the beurette girl who climbed the ranks, who succeeded," said Yves Thréard, an editorialist at the daily newspaper Le Figaro, in an interview with France 5 on Monday, 5 February.

The interview in question went viral on social media three days later, sparking a wide controversy on normalised racism, misogyny and Orientalist culture in the country.


Beur, Beurette: 'racism, misogyny and orientalism'


Created using Verlan (a form of French slang where syllables of words are inverted), from the word Arab ("A-ra-beu" to "beur-ra-a", becoming "beur" by contraction) "Beur" was used in various contexts in the 80s.

Politicians of the time (during François Mitterrand's presidency) made it their battle cry to soften integration, euphemise ethnic identity and calm heated racial injustice controversies with slogans like "Beurs, we understand you!"

The Beur then became the "integrated" Arab, a figure assimilated into the Republic, promoting a multicultural France composed of "Black, White, Beur".

"The Beur remains the eternal Arab who is always striving to become French through a never-ending process," explained Nacira Guénif Souilamas in her article "Beurs, Beurettes, pseudo-French", published in the Ravages journal in 2011.

Later on, the term became too politically charged as it became heavily used by some "white" French elite as a derogatory term.

"Beurette," originally, is the feminine form of "beur," referring to young women of North African /Arab origin.

However, since the "March of the Beurs" in 1983, the word "beurette" has appeared more on X-rated websites than in history books.

In 2021, researchers Salima Tenfiche and Christelle Taraud shed light on "the Orientalist fantasy and racist stereotypes" that led to coining the term "beurette" as we know it today.


France's politicians' reactions


Political deferences between Dati, a right-wing leaning figure, and left-wing politicians did not stop the latter from defending the political figure.

Karima Delli, French Member of the European Parliament and Greens–European Free Alliance, has called out the Figaro's journalist for his "misogynistic, racist, and degrading word."

She also criticised "the silence on the set" as no one interfered to correct him during the interview.

"It's scandalous! No one is reacting," she wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

From the leftist party La France Insoumise (LFI), Antoine Léaument and Carlos Martens Bilongo have also condemned "these racist and sexist remarks", voicing support for the minister of culture Rachida Dati.

French media Le Figaro and its journalist Yves Thréard have yet to address the controversy.