Eva Joly enraged by 'racist attack'

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Photo: Marie-Lan Nguyen (File)
13:39 CET+01:00
Norway-born politician Eva Joly, the French Green movement’s presidential candidate, has slammed as “racist” a column in a prominent magazine that appears to mock her French accent.

Speaking to reporters in Paris on Sunday, Joly said the column in the weekly Le Point magazine was “a racist attack, a form of ostracism.”

She also branded the article by novelist Patrick Besson “symptomatic of the French state.”

“It’s a casual form of racism which seeks to remove from positions of power anybody not born in the right areas or the right territories.”

In his column, Besson depicted a scenario in which Joly had become president due to the sudden deaths of all the other candidates.

The entire column is written from the perspective of a heavily accented Joly, and begins with the greeting: “Zalut la Vrance!”

“He thinks this is of no consequence because it’s about a Norwegian kitted out with a German accent and not somebody from Africa or the Middle East,” said Joly.

Despite her anger at the piece, Joly said she did not intend taking legal action against the author or the magazine.

Joly, who turned 68 on Monday, is best known to the French as a campaigning magistrate against corruption who took on some of France's biggest business interests during the 1990s as an investigating judge.

Born, Gro Eva Farseth in Oslo, she moved to Paris when she was 20 to work as an au pair.

"In Norway, after high school, lots of young people left to move abroad to discover the world," she told French magazine Gala in a recent interview. "Paris and the Parisians represented the new wave, a certain way of living and a culture that was rich and passionate. This was in contrast to the Norwegians who were more thrifty and lovers of nature."

She married the older son of the family that employed her, a medical student, Pascal Joly, and used her middle name, Eva, as it was easier to pronounce in French.

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Joly became a magistrate at 38, joining the High Court of Paris as an investigating judge specializing in finance in 1990.

Some of the major corporate interests and personalities she went up against included oil company Elf Aquitaine, well-known business tycoon Bernard Tapie and the Crédit Lyonnais bank. She was subjected to death threats during some of her cases and won admiration for her courage.

Her husband, Pascal, committed suicide in 2001 and Joly left her job in 2002, returning to Norway to work as an advisor on a global anti-corruption and money laundering commission.

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