The French government has been pilloried for releasing a video honouring Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ civil rights march – using white children only.
The youngsters appear in the short film all speaking English.
The video was finally deleted by the National Education Ministry on Wednesday, after critics described it as “a late April Fool’s joke”, and “a gimmick completely lacking in diversity”.
The aim of the film was to mark the 60th anniversary of August 28, 1963 – the day when more than 250,000 Americans took part in the historic March on Washington DC for Jobs and Freedom.
Some 3000 journalists were present, when Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech.
France – which considers itself to be the home of human rights – was determined to get its young people marking the day.
But, after posting the film on X, formerly Twitter, the Ministry had to admit that only white children had won a competition “dedicated to the creative practice of English”.
This meant that only white children appeared in the video about black civil rights.
Gabriel Attal, France’s new Education Minister, said: ‘The students in this video are the 2023 winners of the “The More I Say” competition, which encourages the creative practice of English in middle schools.
“To honour the memory of Martin Luther King on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of his famous speech delivered on August 28, 1963, they were invited to give a short speech inspired by that of Martin Luther King, starting with “I Have a Dream”’
France is regularly criticised for its mistreatment of ethnic minority groups, including those from black African and Caribbean backgrounds.
Mr Attal has just been widely criticised for banning children in state schools from wearing the Abaya – a robe associated with Muslims.
Loubna Regui, president of the ELF-Muslim Students of France, said such a move targeted immigrants and was ‘inherently racist’.
And Clementine Autain, of the France Insoumise party, criticised “the clothes police” and France’s “obsessional rejection of Muslims”.
There was widespread rioting across France earlier this summer following the shooting dead of a French-Algerian teenager by a Paris policeman.
The death was described as symptomatic of the racist manner in which France’s forces of law-and-order treat youngsters who do not have white skin.