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Dumped by Sarkozy, Rachida Dati digs her heels in as she strides toward European parliament
* Ousted Muslim minister begins 'crucial' campaign
* Shambolic party meeting becomes an internet hit

By Angelique Chrisafis in Le Pecq, guardian.co.uk

In a leafy riverside suburb west of Paris, the gentle evening birdsong was punctured by a shiny people carrier screeching into a modest community centre car park. Doors opened and a pair of feet in impossibly high, dominatrix-style, designer spike heels swung out of the car. "Look at the shoes," gasped one business leader as dignitaries, teachers and sixth formers who had gathered for a small campaign meeting turned to gawp.

Rachida Dati, the beleaguered French justice minister, may have been lampooned for her devotion to wearing ostentatious catwalk fashion at inappropriate moments, but having been forced by Nicolas Sarkozy to run in the European elections as a way of sacking her from government, she remains defiant in her choice of footwear.

Once she was Sarkozy's handpicked symbol of change, hugely popular with the public as the first Muslim woman to hold a major government post. Now, after a spectacular fall from grace, Dati is using the European election campaign to fight back.

Despite trying to prove her commitment by returning to work five days after giving birth by caesarian section, Sarkozy ordered her to run in order to sack her after the 7 June vote. She felt "humiliated", according to the former prime minister, Jean-Pierre Raffarin.

The European election campaign has now become another saga in the Dati soap opera, as she still refuses to reveal the name of the father of her baby daughter but has suggested she is keen for another child. Her allies have briefed that she is seeking "revenge" on the political class and is keen to run as mayor of Paris in four years' time.

by Magnifico on Wed May 13th, 2009 at 11:14:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Foreign Correspondent Syndrome™ strikes again.

Once she was Sarkozy's handpicked symbol of change, hugely popular with the public as the first Muslim woman to hold a major government post.

Dati was just one of Sarkozy's "symbols of change". She was not "hugely popular with the public", though it's true she was more popular than she is now. The construction "as the first Muslim woman" suggests that she was "hugely popular" because of the attributes "Muslim" and "woman". She's undoubtedly a woman, and her family religious tradition is Muslim, but she has never made any public show of identification with Islam, and is not generally perceived as "Muslim" by most people - though certainly as a second-generation immigrant from an ethnic minority. "Arab" or "Maghrebine" or "North African" would be much closer to her perceived identity.

But so what, it's conventional in English-language journalism to call immigrants in France "Muslim", and Angelique Chrisafis is writing for her home readership, and the foreign correspondent game goes on.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu May 14th, 2009 at 03:16:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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