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This Is How Far-Right Trolls Almost Got A Black Feminist Festival Banned

Things spiraled so far out of control that the festival was almost banned by Paris's mayor.

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However, last Thursday, Pierre Sautarel, a blogger associated with the far-right news site Fdesouche, tweeted a link to an Fdesouche post about the festival. The article claims that the festival was “forbidden to whites.”

Un Festival avec des espaces interdits aux Blancs organisé cet été https://t.co/MQP0GQjwd6 via @f_desouche

"A festival with spaces forbidden to whites organized this summer."

The official Nyansapo festival website says certain number of spaces have been reserved for black women, some for black women and men, and others for "racialized" women.

Soon after the article was published, user GeorgeOrwell2 brought up the topic on gaming forum Jeuxvideo. The thread has since been deleted.

At about the same time, journalists began asking Mwasi about Sautarel's claims.

@MwasiCollectif Bonjour, journaliste à Radio Classique, je cherche à vous joindre pour une interview à propos du festival Nyansapo 1/2

Aurélien Legrand, of the National Front's Île-de-France branch, then tweeted about the article and mentioned the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo.

Un festival interdit aux "Blancs" dans des locaux de la mairie de Paris... @Anne_Hidalgo doit s'en expliquer ! Nous… https://t.co/SE8S3FvA3X

"A festival banning 'Whites' in the premises of the town hall of Paris...

@Anne_Hidalgo must explain! We don't let go. "

Meanwhile, things started picking up steam on jeuxvideo.com. A thread with the subject, “[PROJECT] to denounce the racism of the festival forbidden to whites”, was created early in the evening. The user suggested spamming the festival’s official hashtags with hate.

Si le #NYANSAPOFest était organisé par des blancs

On Friday, the president of the National Front group at the Île-de-France regional council, Wallerand de Saint-Just, asked Hidalgo to "explain."

Un festival interdit aux "Blancs" dans des locaux publics, @Anne_Hidalgo doit s'expliquer ! Mon communiqué :… https://t.co/73CNPfRxNX

Then LICRA, the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism, also picked up Sautarel's story, condeming the festival.

Festival "interdits aux blancs": #RosaParks doit se retourner dans sa tombe. Le combat antiraciste devenu l'alibi d… https://t.co/8Y3xQZFVM0

LICRA and its president, Alain Jakubowicz, had already opposed what they called the “decolonial summer camp" reserved for racialized people, in the summer of 2016. Contacted by the newspaper Libération, LICRA claims to have been informed of the existence of this festival by several of its members.

Sautarel was also very pleased with LICRA's stance.

Merci à @anne_hidalgo et à la @_LICRA_ de relayer les révélations de Fdesouche et de réagir .. #antiracisme https://t.co/MQP0GQjwd6

On Sunday, Hidalgo finally spoke on the matter, condemning the organization of the event.

Je condamne avec fermeté l'organisation à #Paris de cet événement "interdit aux blancs". https://t.co/DKJmdPry5v

"I strongly condemn the organization of a #Paris event 'forbidden to whites.'"

Je demande l'interdiction de ce festival. Je vais saisir le Préfet de Police en ce sens.

"I ask that the festival be banned. I will refer the matter to the police."

Immediately after the mayor of Paris weighed in, SOS Racisme, a group of NGOs, also condemned the festival.

Je me réserve également la possibilité de poursuivre les initiateurs de ce festival pour discrimination.

"I also reserve the right to pursue the initiators of this festival for discrimination."

The Mwasi collective announced on Monday its desire to go ahead with the festival and assured that neither the Paris City Hall nor the police could ban it.

Apres contact ac la préF de police et le cabinet de la Maire de Paris,le festival NE PEUT NI ETRE INTERDIT NI ÊTRE… https://t.co/XI2F61ofTi

Hidalgo tweeted on Monday that she had spoken to festival organizers, and that any parts of the festival happening in a public space would be open to all. Private workshops would be held in private spaces.

According to Mwasi, this had always been the case. This was disputed by Hidalgo's press adviser.

n'avaient pas lieu à La Generale mais dans un lieu privé, louer par Mwasi.

"[workshops] Would not take place at La Generale [a public venue] but in a private place, rented by Mwasi."

The actions of Hidalgo and the festival's opponents provoked outrage on Twitter.

Ridiculous. Festival #NYANSAPO is & was open to all with private workshops about & for black women. Cast as anti-wh… https://t.co/ZhYvaXeJRG

Supporters used the hashtag #JeSoutiensMwasi ("I support Mwasi") to express their anger.

If you can't distinguish separatism as resistance from segregation as oppression, your language is corrupt. #JeSoutiensMwasi

The Mayor of Paris wants to cancel a Black Feminist festival #JeSoutiensMwasi #Racism

Please use the hashtag #JeSoutiensMwasi to support French Afro-feminists and their right to organize and resist a racist, sexist society.

BuzzFeed News has contacted Mwasi for comment.

This post was translated from French.

Jules Darmanin est journaliste chez BuzzFeed News France et travaille depuis Paris.

Contact Jules Darmanin at Jules.Darmanin@buzzfeed.com.

Rachael Krishna is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Rachael Krishna at rachael.krishna@buzzfeed.com.

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