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Paris Black Feminist Festival Draws Threats of Ban, Call for Apology

  • VOA News

FILE - Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo speaks during the C40 Cities Women4Climate event in New York City, March 15, 2017.

An Afro-feminist group in France says it expects a public apology from the mayor of Paris, after she condemned the group's plan to hold a festival in late July.

Mayor Anne Hidalgo characterized the event as "forbidden to whites" in a series of comments on Twitter, adding that she reserved the right to "prosecute the organizers for discrimination."

The Mwasi Collective says the festival is aimed at "organizing and building black feminist strategies to end racial, patriarchal, colonial and capitalist violence." It plans workshops, presentations and performances with certain areas reserved for black women, another area for black people of any gender, and another space that is open to everyone.

The group said in Twitter comments Monday that it both expects the apology from Hidalgo, and that the festival can neither be forbidden or canceled.

La Generale, another group working with Mwasi, says their efforts are the target of a "misinformation campaign," pointing to a record of more than a decade of defending constructive debate as well as against exclusion.

It added that feminist discussion groups set aside just for women without the mention of race have not been a problem, and that defining certain forums has been a demonstrated method for encouraging free speech and reflection.

Several rights and anti-Semitic groups have joined the Hidalgo in criticizing the event as divisive, while supporters of Mwasi used social media to speak in support of the festival as an important space for people of color to organize and address inequality in France.

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