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Far-right targets France’s mixed-race Joan of Arc

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The French city of Orleans has for the first time named a mixed-race teenager to play folk heroine Joan of Arc for annual festivities, prompting a torrent of racist abuse from far-right social media users.

Mathilde Edey Gamassou was chosen among 250 girls Monday to play Joan for a spring festival marking the victory of the Catholic warrior saint in breaking the English siege of Orleans in 1429.

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The 17-year-old, whose father is from Benin and whose mother is Polish, is set to ride horseback through the central city dressed in armour for an annual celebration dating back nearly six centuries.

But the announcement has been met with a flurry of posts on Twitter and on far-right websites branding her nomination an exercise in “diversity propaganda” and an attempt to re-write French history.

“Joan of Arc was white,” read one Twitter post. “We are white and proud of being white, don’t change our history.”

Another comment, on anti-Muslim site Resistance Republicaine, complained: “Next year, Joan of Arc will be in a burqa.”

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Women’s equality minister Marlene Schiappa stepped into the row on Wednesday, offering her support to the student.

“The racist hatred of fascists has no place in the French republic,” she tweeted.

– ‘Chosen for who she is’ –

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Benedicte Baranger, president of the committee in charge of picking a girl for the honour, said she was saddened by some of the reactions.

“This girl was chosen for who she is, an interesting person and a lively spirit,” Baranger said.

“She responds to our four criteria — a resident of Orleans for 10 years, a student in an Orleans high school, and a Catholic who gives her time to others.

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“She will deliver our French history to everyone, as have previous Joans before her.”

Orleans mayor Olivier Carre also rushed to the teenager’s defence.

“In 2018 as for 589 years, the people of Orleans will celebrate Joan of Arc played by a young woman who shows her courage, faith and vision,” he wrote on Twitter.

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“Mathilde has all these qualities.”

Aside from her school work, Gamassou is a student of opera at the prestigious Orleans Conservatory and is learning to fence.

The end of the brutal six-month Siege of Orleans was a turning point in the Hundred Years War between France and England and the first major French victory.

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Over the course of the war between 1337 and 1453, England lost nearly all its territories on the other side of the channel.

Joan of Arc, who was burned alive at the stake in 1431, is a heroine for many in France but is particularly venerated by the far-right as a symbol of national resistance.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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‘It’s always dread with President Trump’: CNN analyst says G7 leaders are revolted they have to meet with Trump again

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On Thursday's edition of CNN's "The Situation Room," reporter Abby Phillip said that world leaders are feeling "dread" about the prospect of meeting with President Donald Trump after his latest round of erratic behavior on the world stage.

"There is a big test on foreign relations for President Trump this weekend," said host Brianna Keilar. "He's going to the G7. He, Abby, is headed there after insulting Denmark by pulling out of a state visit, keeping in mind that Denmark is a key intel and military ally of the U.S. What is the mood going into this forum?"

"Honestly, it's always dread with President Trump," said Phillip.

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5.0 earthquake strikes Ridgecrest, California — two months after 7.1

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Two months after the 7.1 earthquakes that hit outside of Los Angeles, another more modest quake was detected, ABC-7 reported.

While the location of the quake was about 20 miles north of Ridgecrest, California, at the Naval Air Warfare Center China Lake. People as far away as Clark County, Nevada also felt the rumble Thursday afternoon.

https://twitter.com/ClarkCountyNV/status/1164643506494689280

It left several people asking if it was considered a foreshock or a really late aftershock from two months ago.

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92% of HPV-caused cancers could be prevented by vaccine: health authority

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An estimated 92% of cancers caused by HPV could be prevented through vaccination, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Thursday, adding that boosting immunization coverage was a key priority.

Human papillomavirus was responsible for an estimated yearly average of 34,800 cancer cases between 2012 and 2016, according to a new study published by the CDC, meaning that more than 32,100 cases could have been avoided annually.

The virus can lead to cancers in both men and women, including cancers of the cervix, vulva, vagina, penis, anus, and oropharynx (the back of the throat, including the base of the tongue and tonsils).

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