A French magazine is being investigated after publishing a story depicting an MP as a slave.
Widely condemned as racist, the “political fiction” published in the right-wing weekly Valeurs Actuelles included images of left-wing politician Danièle Obono with an iron collar around her neck.
The Paris prosecutor Rémy Heitz announced on Monday the opening of an investigation for “racist insults” against the black MP.
The magazine insists the article is not racist and was part of a series of stories where contemporary characters are imagined in the past.
French President Emmanuel Macron called Obono at the weekend, according to the Elysée Palace, expressing his “clear condemnation of all forms of racism”.
Prime Minister Jean Castex from the conservative The Republicans party tweeted: “This revolting publication calls for unambiguous condemnation. ... The fight against racism will always transcend our differences.”
Posting one of the offensive images on Twitter, Obono said: “You can still write racist s*** in a rag illustrated with pictures of a black African French MP painted as a slave”, adding: “The extreme right - obnoxious, stupid and cruel.”
Obono, who was born in the former French colony of Gabon, said later on BFM television: “I hurt for my republic, I hurt for my France.”
She called the publication a political attack on her and others who fight against “the racism, stigmatisation that millions of our compatriots are subjected to”.
Macron drew some criticism when he gave an interview to the magazine last year.
The publication of the images comes after a summer of protests around the world, and in France, against racial injustice and police brutality.
The magazine responded to the outcry with a statement on Twitter, saying: “We are well aware of the bad faith of some, but, for others, we must make our intentions clear."
It explained it wanted to show that Europeans were not alone responsible for the slave trade, and "that the complexity of reality, its harshness, has to be told."
"The images nevertheless, and all the more so when isolated on social networks, reinforce the inherent cruelty of the subject itself."
It went on to apologise to Obono: "We have enough clear-sightedness to understand that the main interested party, Mrs Daniele Obono, may have felt personally hurt by this fiction. We regret it and apologise to her."