France remembers slavery victims
A French envoy has said her country did profit from slavery as it officially commemorates the victims of the trade for the first time.
"It profited from the commerce in human beings... ripped from the African homeland," Junior Co-operation Minister Brigitte Girardin said in Senegal.
She was visiting a notorious slave island off the coast of Senegal.
In Paris, President Jacques Chirac said facing up to the colonial past was a "key to national cohesion".
He opened an art exhibition in Paris's Luxembourg Gardens while other cities and venues around France held their own ceremonies for Slavery Remembrance Day - the first such event in an EU state.
Wednesday's day of commemoration was ordered by Mr Chirac, on the fifth anniversary of the passing of a law by the French Senate recognising slavery as a crime against humanity.
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Vernon Clayson - 5/13/2006
It's 2006 and France has recognized that slavery is a crime against humanity. France is the world's California, always starting new fads, soon they will recognize the world is round, pass a law and celebrate it annualy. In their defense, they take the blame, saying nothing about those who sold slaves to them. One could only hope that it isn't fear that holds them back from mentioning that it was a trade arrangement, surrendering to fear would spoil their image.