Rumours of Aya Nakamura Olympics performance spark far-right backlash

Nakamura was targeted by far-right groups over rumours she might perform at the Olympics (Miguel MEDINA)

Nakamura was targeted by far-right groups over rumours she might perform at the Olympics (Miguel MEDINA)

A rumour that France’s biggest music star Aya Nakamura might sing an Edith Piaf song during the Paris Olympics opening ceremony drew an angry reaction from far-right groups.

Local media reported that the French-Malian singer discussed the possibility of performing a song by 20th century icon Piaf when she met President Emmanuel Macron last month, though neither party has confirmed the rumour.

But it was enough to become an issue at a campaign rally on Sunday for the Reconquest party, led by far-right former presidential candidate Eric Zemmour, where Nakamura’s name drew boos from the crowd.

The 28-year-old singer has become a pop superstar around the world for hits like “Djadja”, which has close to a billion streams on YouTube alone.

A small extremist group, the Natives hung a banner by the River Seine that read: “There’s no way Aya, this is Paris, not the Bamako market”.

Nakamura responded on social media: “You can be racist but not deaf… That’s what hurts you! I’m becoming a number 1 state subject in debates… but what do I really owe you? Nada.”

Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera also weighed in, telling Nakamura: “It doesn’t matter, people love you. Don’t worry about anything.”

– ‘Racist’ backlash –

Another parliamentarian, Antoine Leaument of the left-wing LFI party, also hit out at the Natives, posting: “They claim to love their country but they want to exclude the most listened-to French-speaking singer in the world since Edith Piaf. We cannot be racist and patriotic in France.”

Some on the right are offended at the liberties Nakamura takes with the French language, though it is the familiar argot of hip-hop.

“I can understand why some people say: ‘Who does she think she is, mocking us in our French language?'” Nakamura told AFP in a recent interview.

“But it’s important to accept the culture of others, and, me, I have two cultures,” she said.

Carole Boinet of culture magazine Les Inrockuptibles said the far-right had, ironically, made it more vital that Nakamura perform at the Olympics.

“Aya Nakamura invented this language which is fantastic. She has crazy hits — France should be proud to have an artist like her known internationally,” Boinet told AFP.

“It’s a controversy that comes from the backward side of France but it’s not them who will decide. I hope she will sing at the Olympics — it has become imperative,” she added.

Angelo Gopee, boss of event producers Live Nation France, said it was “unforgiveable that racists can attack an artist for her origins and her skin colour.

“The Olympics should transcend borders,” he said.


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