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Screenshot: Twitter Mwasi-Collectif zu Afrifeminism in Paris
Image: Twitter/Mwasi-Collectif

Paris 'blacks only' feminist fair criticized

May 29, 2017

Organizers of the black feminist Nyansapo Festival appear to have U-turned after first indicating that only a few events would be "open to all" races. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo had called for the fair to be banned.


Just a day after it emerged that a black feminist festival - to be held in the French capital, Paris, at the end of July - would mostly exclude all other races, on Monday organizers appeared to backtrack following a public backlash.

Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted that she'd held talks with organizers of the Nyansapo Festival, and that the public event would now be "open to all" after "a clear solution" had been found.

Hidalgo added that private "non-mixed" workshops would be held somewhere else, referring to events advertised as being exclusively "for black and mixed-race women."

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She went on to say that Monday's clarification would now allow the festival to proceed with its plans after she previously threatened to have it banned.

Confusion over mayor's comments

But the Afrofeminist group Mwasi, which organized the festival, insisted in a Facebook statement on Monday that the event "had always been organized in this form."

It earlier claimed to have been the "target of a disinformation campaign."

On its website, the collective says it is "non-mixed so that we are in the best position to grasp the weapons of our emancipation." The group says it is neither against men nor other races.

Read more:Taking on racism and hate speech in France

On Sunday, Hidalgo had tweeted her displeasure at the festival's door policy, after its brochure suggested that 80 percent of the event space would be accessible only to black women.

"I firmly condemn the organization of this event in Paris (that's) forbidden to white people,'" she told her followers, adding that she might call for the organizers to be prosecuted on grounds of discrimination.

Plans criticized

The three-day festival, to run from July 28 to 30 at a cultural center in the French capital, bills itself as "an event rooted in blackfeminism, activism, and on (a) European scale."

With most of the festival area to be set aside as a "non-mixed" space "for black women," some other sections would be open to black men and "racialized women," the event's website said. One smaller space would be open to everyone regardless of race.

Read more:French paper's racial poll infuriates Twitter

Several rights organizations, including SOS Racism and the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism (LICRA), condemned the event as one that "wallows in ethnic separation," saying it would be a "regression" for race issues in France.

The festival is not the first to court controversy in modern times for excluding other races. Last year, a "decolonization camp" in the northeastern French city of Reims banned white people after billing itself as a "training seminar on antiracism" reserved for victims of "institutional racism" or "racialized" minorities.

mm/tj (AFP, AP)

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