Controversy over cancelled concert in Verdun
The mayor of Verdun has cancelled a concert by rapper Black M scheduled for the 100th anniversary of the battle of Verdun on May 29 in reaction to criticism from conservatives and far-right groups who pointed out that the musician had called France a land of infidels in 2010. French commentators are at odds over whether cancelling the concert was the right decision.
Historian Laurence de Cock and sociologist Karim Hammou complain on Mediapart that the far right is being allowed to commandeer collective remembrance in France:
“The city of Verdun could have come up with a programme that is less focused on show and spectacle. But aside from that the affair reveals a far more worrying policy of commemoration. A faded, black and white family photo testifying to a truncated memory has been confiscated by a moribund sense of national identity, and now joins the sinister group of concessions made to the far right. This all testifies to a disdain for the past as well as for the present. And it reveals once again how radically unwilling some people are to admit the existence of multiple memories. These are as painful as they are heroic, and they are inherent to today's societies.”
Culture minister unworthy of her office
French Culture Minister Audrey Azoulay has criticised the cancellation of the concert, saying it reflected a "putrid moral order". The conservative municipal politician Fabien Bouglé takes issue with her stance in Boulevard Voltaire:
“Audrey Azoulay has made a fool of herself, not only by siding with the singer but also by supporting the idea of a festive concert, confusing World Music Day with the sacrifices of our forefathers on the field of honour. It is no longer acceptable that artists who extol paedophilia, anti-Semitism, hatred of Catholics, France or the French should be broadcast, financed and promoted in the name of the freedom of artistic expression. Artistic freedom does not permit everything, and the minister of culture must assume her responsibilities. In refusing to honour the memory of our dead in a dignified way and in taking exception to the cancellation of the concert, she has shown that she is not worthy of the office she holds.”