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France’s PM sparks anger by promoting minister accused of rape to a role overseeing law enforcement

France’s new prime minister has sparked anger by promoting a colleague accused of rape as his interior minister, meaning the man will be in charge of enforcing French laws.

Prime minister Jean Castex’s vigorous expression of support for the minister, Gerald Darmanin, on Wednesday followed protests against his appointment by women’s rights groups near the Elysee Palace in Paris a day earlier. 

It also led to questions about whether President Emmanuel Macron is failing in his promises to make equality between men and women a priority. 

Castex told broadcaster BFM-TV that he takes total responsibility for Darmanin’s appointment. He was promoted from his previous job as budget minister.

‘He, like everyone else, has the right to the presumption of innocence,’ Castex said.

Darmanin will be in charge of enforcing French laws

France’s new prime minister, Jean Castex, has sparked anger by promoting a colleague accused of rape,  Gerald Darmanin, as his interior minister, meaning the man will be in charge of enforcing French laws

Darmanin is under preliminary investigation over a rape accusation that he firmly denies. 

Macron’s office has said the probe was ‘not an obstacle’ to Darmanin’s appointment to his new job in charge of police and other law enforcement bodies.

The recently reopened investigation is based on a 2017 legal complaint by a woman who alleged that Darmanin raped her when she sought legal help from him in 2009.

Darmanin, the highest-ranking French official accused of sexual misconduct in the #MeToo era, says the encounter was consensual. He sued the woman for slander.

In another controversial appointment, Macron handed the justice ministry to provocative lawyer Eric Dupond-Moretti, who previously ridiculed the #MeToo movement and defended a top official accused of rape.

On Tuesday, feminist groups staged two protests in Paris over the appointments they see as burying Macron’s promises to make equality between women and men the ‘Great Cause’ of his five-year term.

Castex's vigorous expression of support for the minister, Gerald Darmanin, triggered protests by women's rights groups near the Elysee Palace in Paris on Tuesday

Castex’s vigorous expression of support for the minister, Gerald Darmanin, triggered protests by women’s rights groups near the Elysee Palace in Paris on Tuesday 

Castex told broadcaster BFM-TV that he takes total responsibility for Darmanin's appointment. He was promoted from his previous job as budget minister. Pictured: Feminist activists demonstrate against Darmanin's appointment

Castex told broadcaster BFM-TV that he takes total responsibility for Darmanin’s appointment. He was promoted from his previous job as budget minister. Pictured: Feminist activists demonstrate against Darmanin’s appointment

Darmanin is under preliminary investigation over a rape accusation that he firmly denies. Pictured: One protester holds a sign which reads 'Shame of the reshuffle'

Darmanin is under preliminary investigation over a rape accusation that he firmly denies. Pictured: One protester holds a sign which reads ‘Shame of the reshuffle’

‘It’s a slap in the face,’ said Pauline Baron of the feminist group NousToutes, which campaigns against sexual violence. 

‘We are once again celebrating people who are accused of rape or say things that negate the voice of victims. It stifles victims and feeds sexual violence and rape culture.’

As the #MeToo movement encouraged women around the world to speak out about past acts of sexual misconduct committed by powerful men, Dupond-Moretti criticized the ‘crazy’ women who ‘crucify’ men on social media.  

He also dismissed the world’s first law against catcalls and other street harassment, passed in France in 2018, as a ‘joke.’

In a reshuffling of the French government on Monday, Macron replaced the high-profile women’s rights minister behind that law, Marlene Schiappa. 

'It's a slap in the face,' said Pauline Baron of the feminist group NousToutes, which campaigns against sexual violence. Pictured: Protesters hold up banners criticising the appointment of Darmanin

‘It’s a slap in the face,’ said Pauline Baron of the feminist group NousToutes, which campaigns against sexual violence. Pictured: Protesters hold up banners criticising the appointment of Darmanin 

Activists were also angry that President Emmanuel Macron handed the justice ministry to provocative lawyer Eric Dupond-Moretti (pictured), who previously ridiculed the #MeToo movement and defended a top official accused of rape

Activists were also angry that President Emmanuel Macron handed the justice ministry to provocative lawyer Eric Dupond-Moretti (pictured), who previously ridiculed the #MeToo movement and defended a top official accused of rape

Several dozen protesters gathered later in front of the columned Madeleine Church near the Justice Ministry for a symbolic 'burial' of Macron's promises to fight sexism and sexist violence

Several dozen protesters gathered later in front of the columned Madeleine Church near the Justice Ministry for a symbolic ‘burial’ of Macron’s promises to fight sexism and sexist violence

She will now work under Darmanin in a new role focusing on citizenship.

The #MeToo movement had a mixed reception in France, where many celebrate the art of seduction and resented what they saw as American political correctness encroaching on French society. 

French feminists, who have long sought to battle women’s oppression in a macho culture, welcomed the movement as a breakthrough that allowed victims to speak out at last – though no powerful French figures lost their jobs as a result.

At Tuesday’s first protest, near the president’s Elysee Palace and the Interior Ministry, about 20 mostly masked demonstrators waved sparklers, raised their fists and chanted for the resignations of the new interior and justice ministers. 

A group of male police officers pushed them back.

Several dozen protesters gathered later in front of the columned Madeleine Church near the Justice Ministry for a symbolic ‘burial’ of Macron’s promises to fight sexism and sexist violence.

After the new Cabinet's first meeting Tuesday, government spokesman Gabriel Attal defended Macron's staffing choices

After the new Cabinet’s first meeting Tuesday, government spokesman Gabriel Attal defended Macron’s staffing choices

Responding to the protests over the new ministers, Attal said: 'There are investigations, they are ongoing, and that's normal, we're in a state of law. 'We cannot take it a step farther and say that because there are investigations, it will be impossible to serve in a government'

Responding to the protests over the new ministers, Attal said: ‘There are investigations, they are ongoing, and that’s normal, we’re in a state of law. ‘We cannot take it a step farther and say that because there are investigations, it will be impossible to serve in a government’

‘No rapist in the Interior Ministry, no accomplice in the Justice Ministry!’ the activists shouted.

After the new Cabinet’s first meeting Tuesday, government spokesman Gabriel Attal defended Macron’s staffing choices.

‘We can’t on the one side make the presumption of innocence sacred … and (on the other) consider that there are people who, by the function they occupy, cannot benefit from the presumption of innocence,’ Attal said.

Early in his presidency, Macron replaced ministers who were targeted by corruption investigations. 

Responding to the protests over the new ministers, Attal said: ‘There are investigations, they are ongoing, and that’s normal, we’re in a state of law. 

‘We cannot take it a step farther and say that because there are investigations, it will be impossible to serve in a government.’ 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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