Mixed-Race Girl to Play Joan of Arc in Upcoming City Celebration

Another European Historical Figure Replaced in Dramatization

The State Prosecutor in the French city of Orléans is investigating possible incitement to racial hatred, following Twitter attacks on a mixed-race girl chosen to play Joan of Arc in upcoming city celebrations.

17-year-old Mathilde Edey Gamassou had been chosen to play the Medieval heroine of French history in Orléans’ annual Johannique festival. A local schoolgirl of African (Bénin) and Polish descent, she will ride on horseback through the city center dressed in armor during the celebrations, commemorating Joan of Arc’s breaking of the siege of the city by the English in 1429.

The Maiden of Orléans remains a politically sensitive figure in France. Joan of Arc was considered a loose cannon in her day: a teenage girl leading an army and a Catholic mystic who had visions telling her to throw the English out of France during the Hundred Years’ War. Since the 1970s, the National Front has appropriated her image as a defender of the motherland, organizing annual demonstrations in Paris on May 1.

Local newspaper La République du Centre reported…

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