French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said Friday that rap songs were not to blame for rioting in poor suburbs, after a conservative lawmaker asked the government to take legal action against music groups he blamed for stoking violence. "I very much wish during this period, it is one of my primary responsibilities, to avoid any sort of confusion or finger-pointing," Villepin told RTL radio. "Is rap responsible for the crisis in the suburbs? My answer is: No." The premier added, however, that any hate lyrics were banned and it was up to the courts to decide if an artist overstepped the line.
"It is up to those who follow the different groups in question to judge, and to the justice system to do its job," Villepin said. The Paris prosecutor, acting on a complaint from lawmaker Francois Grosdidier filed in August, has ordered a probe into the song "FranSSe," in which rapper Monsieur R expresses contempt for France and historic figures like Napoleon and Gen. Charles de Gaulle. Grosdidier, who belongs to President Jacques Chirac's ruling UMP party, began a drive against hate lyrics earlier this year, before the three weeks of riots that engulfed depressed suburbs starting in late October. He now claims the support of 200 colleagues in parliament.
The lawmaker plans to file a new request that local chart-toppers 113, Ministere A.M.E.R and other rappers face legal sanctions, reports the AP. I.L.