France’s most streamed singer calls on voters to oppose far right in Sunday’s election

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France’s most streamed singer Aya Nakamura has joined the chorus of voices calling on the French electorate to vote against the far right in Sunday’s high stakes election.

The National Rally party, which is slated to win big in this Sunday’s second round of voting, has drawn criticism and concern from French celebrities of dual nationality, worried about the impact of their immigration policy plans. The party, headed by 28-year-old Jordan Bardella, hopes to restrict dual nationals from accessing certain state jobs. It also wants to strip citizenship rights from those born to foreign parents on French soil.

Popstar Nakamura, who immigrated to France from Mali as a child and rose to fame with her smash hit song “Djadja,” made the call in a social media post on Tuesday that zeroed in on her own experiences of racism in France.

The 29-year-old said in her post that she is “well placed to understand and know the place of racism in our country.”

Nakamura said that although she had previously chosen not to weigh in on certain issues, she now understood that her role as a major musical artist requires her to “speak out” during such an “important moment.”

She called on her fans to vote against “the only extreme to be condemned,” in what appeared to be a reference to the far right.

Nakamura herself is no stranger to threats from the far right, having previously found herself at the center of a controversy earlier this year when speculation mounted that she would perform the classic French song “Je ne regrette rien” at the Olympics opening ceremony.

Far-right fringe groups and politicians, including Marion Maréchal, a far-right lawmaker and niece of Marine Le Pen, complained that Nakamura does not even “sing in French.” This swipe was seemingly a reference to the blend of French and African slang that Nakamura uses in her lyrics.

France’s top sports stars have also been using their platforms to urge the public not to vote for the far right. Jules Kounde, a 25-year-old French Beninese national who plays on the French national team, used a press conference during the Euros tournament to share what he called his own “political position.”

“I was disappointed to see the direction France is taking, with strong support for a party against our values,” Kounde told journalists after the match between France and Belgium on Monday. “I believe it’s important to block the extreme right, the National Rally, because this party will not lead our country towards more freedom.”

Kounde’s remarks echo comments from fellow football star Kylian Mbappé, who told journalists earlier during the tournament that he is “against extremes.” Mbappé, whose family originally came from Algeria and Cameroon, stressed that he didn’t want to “represent a country” that didn’t embody his “values.”

The French far right’s strong showing in the first round has prompted concern from several European countries and even top United Nations officials. The UN’s human rights chief Volker Turk told a press conference in Geneva Wednesday that recent far-right gains across Europe should serve as an “alarm bell.”

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