France's Moroccan-born, Muslim education minister fights back against racist slurs

A Moroccan-born Muslim politician in France has called for more respect after her promotion to education minister last week triggered a rash of racist slurs in media.

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem spoke out Wednesday against the right-wing weekly "Minute" whose next edition calls her religious and ethnic background a "provocation."

Vallaud-Belkacem told The Associated Press: "I call for respect ... And I repeat in particular that racism is not an opinion, but a crime."

The same magazine faced accusations of racism last year when it put France's black justice minister on the cover with the word banana.

An anti-racism group, SOS Racism, has launched a petition to defend the education minister. France's national human rights commission says that racist incidents have grown five-fold in the last 20 years.