French far Left leader defends ‘antisemitic’ rapper

Jean-Luc Mélenchon claimed that the rapper, Médine, was the victim of an “imposed agenda” designed as a distraction for French voters.

By Ben Cohen, The Algemeiner

The leader of France’s main far left party, La France Insoumise (“France Rising” — LFI) has offered a robust defense of a rapper accused of antisemitism who was invited to address LFI’s annual summer school last weekend.

In an interview with broadcaster TF1, party leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon claimed that the rapper, Médine, was the victim of an “imposed agenda” designed to distract French voters from the key issues facing them.

“Sorry to tell you, but at the start of the school year, the issue is not Médine — it is social conditions,” Mélenchon declared.

The roots of the dispute lie in a tweet that Médine posted earlier this month in which he attacked Rachel Khan, a Franco-Gambian writer whose Jewish maternal grandparents perished during the Nazi Holocaust. Médine described Khan in the tweet as a “resKHANpée” — a French slang term intended by him to signify a person “who has been thrown out of hip-hop circles, drifting among social traitors and literally eating at the table of the extreme right” and a pun on the French word “rescapée,” which means “survivor.”

Given the fate of Khan’s grandparents at the hands of the Nazis, many observers deemed the post to be antisemitic.

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Past controversies involving Médine include a 2015 track, “Don’t Talk,” in which he called for secularists to be “crucified,” leading some on the French right to call him an “Islamist.” He also released an album in 2005 titled “Jihad,” and in 2014, he was photographed alongside the antisemitic propagandist Dieudonné M’bala M’bala performing the “quenelle,” an inverted Nazi salute that became a viral phenomenon at the time.

Last week, Médine addressed the summer schools of LFI and the EELV, France’s Green Party, despite a bitter row over his invitations. In an interview last week with the news outlet Le Parisien, the rapper described his tweet attacking Khan as “clumsy,” adding that he had forgotten about her family history when he posted it.

However, Médine remained defiant in his speeches to the LFI and EELV summer schools, declaring to warm applause that “not only am I not antisemitic, but I have also been fighting antisemitism for 20 years … on the ground.”

He added: “I don’t intend to wait until they give me a license to fight antisemitism.”