As part of a recent government reshuffle in France, professional technocrat Audrey Azoulay, a former culture advisor to French President Fran├ºois Hollande and former director of the National Center of Cinematography, was appointed as France's Minister of Culture and Communication, replacing Fleur Pellerin.
Born in Morocco, Audrey Azoulay is the daughter of Andr├® Azoulay, an advisor to King Mohamed VI and before him to king Hassan II, and consequently her appointment did not go unnoticed in North Africa. According to the French-language website Mondafrique, which posts news and analyses on the Maghreb and Africa, several Algerian officials expressed displeasure at her appointment, including Sa'id Bouteflika, a brother and advisor to Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who even complained about it to an advisor of the French President. The site estimated that the source of the displeasure was an Algerian concern about the growing influence of Moroccan figures in the French media and political arena. Another factor, the site hinted, is Morocco's good reputation in terms of its tolerance towards Jews, which too is a source of annoyance for Algeria.
The francophone Moroccan website Le360 likewise commented on the Algerian objections to Azoulay's appointment, stating that they had "antisemitic overtones," and that they stemmed from Algeria's hostility towards Morocco and towards its "socialist president" Hollande. Like Mondafrique, this site estimated that Algeria was concerned about Morocco's influence over France, especially since Algerian President Bouteflika believed that Hollande "belonged" to him.
The following are excerpts from both articles.
Audrey Azoulay (Image: Wikipedia.org)
Mondafrique: Algiers Feels That 'The French Political And Media Scene Is... Infested With Politicians, Journalists And Stars Of Moroccan Origin'
The Mondafrique article states: "The announced appointment of Audrey Azoulay as France's Minister of Culture and Communication sparked a real outcry in Algiers. Several Algerian officials did not [even] hesitate to informally share with their French counterparts their irritation at this 'Moroccanization of French politics'... The first to feel enraged was Sa'id Bouteflika, the brother of the head of state, who expressed to one of Hollande's advisors his sense of offense at this 'highly symbolic' appointment. There is a feeling in Algiers that the French political and media scene is 'infested' with politicians, journalists and stars of Moroccan origin, and these 'act as a lobby'...
"In the eyes of the Algerian government, the appointment of Audrey Azoulay is doubly wrong. First, [because] the new minister is of Jewish Moroccan origin, and we know how the happy coexistence of Jews and Arabs in Morocco has helped the image of the [Moroccan] kingdom abroad. Second, she is the daughter of Andr├® Azoulay, advisor to [former king] Hassan II and to [the present king] Mohammed VI, who has many networks [of contacts] in Paris."
Le 360: President Bouteflika Believed That Hollande "Belonged" to Algieria, Not To Morocco
The Le360 article states: "The appointment in France of Audrey Azoulay, the daughter of King Mohammed VI's advisor, as [France's] Minister of Culture and Communication has offended Algiers, and in particular Sa'id Bouteflika, the brother of the man in the El Mouradia [presidential] palace... [who even] took pains to express this to one of the advisors of [French] President Fran├ºois Hollande.
"But what is so 'evil' about the promotion of President Hollande's former culture advisor to the [ministry of] culture and communication? Should the appointment of Audrey Azoulay to this 'symbolic' position... 'irritate' Algiers to the point of explicitly complaining to an advisor of the socialist French president?... Are the Jewishness of Audrey Azoulay and [her] family ties to Andre Azoulay, the advisor of Hassan II and Mohammed VI, the only two 'reasons' for the irritation felt in Algiers?
"To these 'explanations,' with their shockingly antisemitic overtones, as well as the legendary [tendency towards] 'Morocco bashing' - the fierce Algerian hatred towards Morocco - we can add [the fact that] Audrey Azoulay's appointment, and before it the appointment of [French-Moroccan] Najat Vallaud Belkacem as Minister of Education and of Myriam Al-Khomri as Minister of Labor, occurred during the presidency of the socialist [president] Hollande, whom President Bouteflika believed to 'belong' to Algiers..."