Taubira, born in the French overseas department Guiana in South America, has become a target because she championed
same-sex marriage and helped the law win parliamentary approval, Radio France Internationale reported. Like many of Guiana's people, possibly a majority, she is of mixed-race descent.
The newspaper Minute had a headline Wednesday about Taubira: "Maligne comme un singe, Taubira retrouve la banane." The literal translation is "Cunning as a monkey, Taubira finds the banana," with "retrouve la banane" slang for having a grin like a banana, suggesting someone is happy.
The newspaper was on newsstands Wednesday in spite of Interior Minister Manuel Valls' threats Tuesday to halt its distribution. Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said Tuesday the newspaper would be prosecuted if it appeared with the headline, and prosecutors began their work.
Last October, the anti-immigrant Front National suspended a local candidate who called Taubira a monkey in a Facebook post. Others on the far right have taken up the cry, RFI reported. with children calling "Monkey, eat your banana" at demonstrations against gay marriage, and a Catholic priest talking about Banania, a no-longer-available chocolate drink.
Abel Mestre, who reports on the far right for Le Monde, suggested Minute is trying to stir up controversy because its readership has dwindled since its heyday in the 1970s.
In January, Minute said Marine Le Pen, who succeeded her father, Jean, as head of the Front National, was under the sway of a "gay lobby." While Le Pen did not refer to Taubira by name, she said Tuesday she was glad to be attacked by Minute when she saw what it has become.