The Blog

Homegrown Gangstas

France faces a wave of domestically produced anti-French rap.

12:00 AM, Sep 23, 2005 • By OLIVIER GUITTA
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Another outspoken defender of Mr. R is Olivier Besancenot, head of the Communist Revolutionary League and a rising star of the French left. In 2002 at the age of 29, Besancenot ran in the first round of the presidential election and came in eighth out of 16 candidates, with over 4 percent of the votes. He actually performs--raps--on Mr. R's latest album. He told Libération that criticism of the video amounted to an "infringement of the freedom of expression."

NTM, Sniper, and Mr. R are viewed as role models by many young French males of Arab and African descent who live in France's depressed ethnic suburbs. In such an environment, the anti-white riots which erupted last March in Paris should have come as no surprise.

With luck this new phenomenon might turn out to be a fad which peters out, the way anti-police, anti-white gangsta rap did in America after the early '90s. But in the meantime it will be interesting to see if the French will enforce their laws against racism and anti-Semitism--the toughest in Europe--against this homegrown anti-Western hatred.

Olivier Guitta is a freelance writer specializing in the Middle East and Europe.