Causeur magazine ran a cover image of five ethnically-diverse children with a mocking title 'Smile, you are great-replaced!', which suits the far-right's manufactured fear of demographic change.
Causeur, a French magazine, used the photos of five baby boys reflecting different ethnicities and introduced them with a provocative phrase title: "smile you are great-replaced!''.
For its September issue, the magazine's main topic is stated on the cover with a subtitle that read: "The new demography of France with documents and figures'’. It clearly shows the magazine intends to stoke the fears of demographic change, a classic example of how media organisations tend to toe the far-right line.
The multi-ethnic babies illustrated in the magazine are meant to show how France is changing from predominantly white to ethnically diverse country, a reality many countries are facing due to globalisation and free trade agreements. The US takes pride in its diversity, although white supremacy is on the rise there as well.
For Causeur, the understanding of demographic change is pretty pedantic, illustrative of how the white population is dwindling. The publication's management and editors are feeling threatened by fellow French citizens who come from different backgrounds, such as Africans, Muslims and Asians. Them replacing the French people is a common fear that influences the country's politics to a great extent.
While this extremist initiative pleased many far-right French people, others condemned the racist references of the magazine betokening hate speech crime rather than freedom of expression.
Elisabeth Moreno-Minister for Gender Equality, Diversity and Equal Opportunities- denounced the magazine on September 17 and described it as 'disgraceful' while saying that the inter-ministerial delegation for the fight against racism filed a criminal charge against the publication of the magazine.
Moreno made a statement on social media describing the sheer racism on the magazine cover as the abject front page by saying: “Let us be clear: behind the conspiracy theory of the ‘great replacement’ based on skin colour or ethnic origin hides uninhibited racism”.
Former Interior Minister and politician from the ruling Republican March (LREM) party Christophe Castaner declared that Causeur magazine covered racism targeting children and that he was proud to defend a France where all children are born with the same rights and discrimination will always be a crime.
Thomas Portes, spokesman for presidential candidate Sandrine Rousseau also pointed out the magazine cover on Twitter saying it is ''despicable'' and that Causeur should be sanctioned immediately for its racist publication.
Aude Lancelin, on the other hand, who used to be a journalist for the magazine, described it as an "Islamophobic rag".
The Great Replacement theory behind the cover
On September 17, the magazine's editorial director Elisabeth Levy made statements to justify the choice of the cover during a french talk show called Do not touch my TV.
“We made this one to alert a phenomenon,” she said.
''There is a growing share [in France] of the births of children [who] have one or two parents of foreign origin outside Europe and of foreign culture. For me, the problem is not that our society is multiethnic. It is multicultural. If all these children were brought up like French people, in terms of values and manners, I wouldn't give a damn [but] that's not the case "
She also highlighted issues such as community order for the Maghreb and sub-Saharan populations.
Previously, Levy participated in the headscarf debates in October 2020, claiming that the headscarf was the uniform of the enemies of France.
Levy laments a change that, in her view, threatens the cultural mosaic of France as she emphasizes the importance of raising awareness on this issue.
But what is the basis of this so-called ''phenomenon'' that causes fear from such a threat?
As Moreno indicates and the magazine's cover title shows, it lies on a theory called The Great Replacement which was adopted by French-far right movement The Identitarians.
The Identitarians' origin comes from a French network of thinkers and writers called New Right and the French nationalist movement Bloc Identitare. It was founded by xenophobic partisans in 2002.
After, they were named Generation Identity as the movement embraced the American alt-right while connecting itself with the European far-right. Soon, they expanded over many other European countries with their far-right extremist ideology and practices.
So far, the movement has had many pro-racist and anti-refugee rhetoric and actions. For instance, during a demonstration against racism last year, the movement unfurled a banner that says "White Live Matters" to disrupt the anti-racist protests.
At that time, Levy supported the movement's action by saying "Bravo" while appearing on a tv program on a French channel called Cnews.
The movement and its supporters strongly defend this Great Replacement theory that was put forward by the French thinker, Renaud Camus.
The theory suggests that European societies lose their identities and sub-cultures due to the constant increase of non-Europeans and Muslims. It claims that soon, the Europeans will lose their population in their own region.
Hence, the concept of ‘defending Europe’ has become the main theme of the Identitarians and this idea shapes the perception and discourse strategies of its followers. In this regard, the far-right magazine Causeur and its September cover are considered a concrete product of such theoretical understanding.