French interior minister accused of racist insults

The French interior minister Brice Hortefeux, one of Nicolas Sarkozy’s closest friends, is at the centre of a race row after he was accused of making apparently insulting jokes about France’s large North African community.

In a video on Le Monde’s website, Hortefeux is seen bantering with young members of Sarkozy’s ruling centre-right UMP party outside a summer conference meeting last weekend. He is posing for a picture with activists including a young man referred to as Amin. A person in the crowd says of Amin: “He eats pork, he drinks beer” and Hortefeux is seen joking: “So he doesn’t at all correspond to the prototype.” A woman in the crowd shouts: “He’s our little Arab”. Hortefeux says: “There’s always one. When there’s one, that’s OK. It’s when there are a lot of them, that there are problems.”

Anti-racism groups, Socialist and Green opposition politicians immediately accused Hortefeux of racist insults and called for his resignation.

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