A French rapper who threatens to break his adulterous girlfriend's limbs in one of his recordings has apologised following an outcry from politicians and rights groups.
Orelsan often hailed as France's answer to Eminem, said he was sorry that the lyrics of the track, Sale Pute (Slut), may have offended some people but that he never considered himself an aggressor of women.
Christine Albanel, the culture minister, last week described the lyrics as a sordid apology for brutality against women. She said: Liberty of expression stops where inciting violence starts.
The Socialist opposition and Communists also condemned the song.
The online music video shows Orelsan holding an empty bottle of whisky as he raps: You're just a slut, slut, slut ... If I break you're arm, consider that we parted on good terms. I hate you, I want you to die a slow death. I
want you to become pregnant and lose the baby. We'll see how you manage when your legs are broken, sweetie. I want to see you go back burning in flames.
The record label said Orelsan had dropped the song from his repertoire several months ago, that it appeared on none of his albums, and was never meant to incite violence against women.
Ni Putes Ni Soumises (Neither Whores nor Submissive), a group which defends women's rights particularly in the suburbs with a high concentration of immigrant communities, has called on Le Printemps de Bourges, one of France's biggest music
festivals, to take Orelsan off the perfomer's list next month.
Orelsan is known as the French Eminem: a middle-class teacher's son from a dull town in lower Normandy who raps about the rural drug epidemic, boredom and the hopelessness of French provincial teenagers.
But ever since the political class expressed outrage at a song from Orelsan's back catalogue in which he once sang about grotesque violence against a girlfriend who cheated on him, the 26-year-old rap star has become the centre of a national
debate over censorship.
The row has just escalated as politicians from all political parties waded in to express disgust that Orelsan had been dropped from the lineup of one of France's most important summer music festivals, the Francofolies at La Rochelle.
Nicolas Sarkozy's ruling centre-right UMP party, which earlier this year led criticism of Orelsan's song, Sale Pute (Dirty Slut), has now issued a statement saying it was intolerable to censor an artist. The party rounded on the
Socialist Ségolène Royal, head of the western region where the festival takes place, saying she was attacking freedom of expression.
Earlier this month, Royal told a local paper she was happy Orelsan's appearance had been pulled and that she had written to the festival for clarification on his part in the lineup.
Jack Lang, the Socialist and former culture minister, warned of a culture of moral censorship in France. He said the move to axe Orelsan was symptomatic of broader attacks against freedom of expression by local councils of all political
persuasions. Last month, Orelsan's new album was pulled from all Paris's municipal libraries, prompting the League for Human Rights to appeal to Paris's Socialist head of culture to think again.
Orelsan today told French radio his removal from the Francofolies festival was really abhorrent . He stressed that he no longer sang Sale Pute on stage, having removed it from his website, and that those censoring him had not seen his act.
He said he wanted a meeting with the new culture minister, Frédéric Mitterrand.