French-African teen wins beauty pageant, igniting national uproar
GIN) — A radiant French teenager whose mother hails from Benin was crowned Miss France on live TV, thrilling those who acknowledge the diverse population of the European nation.
“I am very proud to represent a cosmopolitan France,” said Flora Coquerel. “It shows that today’s France is a mixed France, where there is every culture, and I think a lot of people will see themselves in me.”
Coquerel from Orleans, was voted Miss France 2014 by a combination of votes from the TV audience estimated at 8.2 million viewers and a celebrity jury.
Within minutes of the crowning, social media was drowned in comments — many were racist. A portion of the comments were horrifying: “I’m not a racist but shouldn’t the Miss France contest only be open to white girls?” to “Death to foreigners.”
Last month, the pageant’s former lifetime president, movie star Alain Delon, resigned after it was revealed he supported the National Front, France’s far-right, anti-immigration party. And the pageant has itself been singled out for perpetuating racism. Louis-Georges Tin, the head of a minority rights group, Representative Council of Black Associations (CRAN), asked why there were so few Black contestants in the competition.
“The failure to represent the contemporary French population in an event such as this is obviously serious,” Tin said. “It amounts to denying the very existence of French people of African origin.
Prior to the contest in the city of Dijon, Coquerel said her mixed heritage would be an advantage in the race. “It shows that today’s France is a mixed France, where there is every culture, and I think a lot of people will see themselves in me,” she said.
A widely attended “march for equality and against racism” to support Coquerel was held Nov. 30 in the streets of Paris.