PARIS : Culture wars flare at idea of Her opening Olympics. A furore about a singer as France wrestles with identity, race and language.

Ms. Nakamura is, by some distance, France's most popular singer at home and abroad, with 25 top 10 singles in France and over 200 million followers on social media.

Born Aya Danioko in Bamako, Mali, she took her stage name from a character in ''Heroes,'' a science fiction series on NBC.

Raised in a suburb of Paris, she mixes French lyrics with Arabic, English, West African languages like Bambara, the Malian language of her parents, in songs that intereweave R&B zouk and the rhythms of Afropop.

In four months, France will host the Paris Olympics, but which France will show up? Torn between tradition and modernity, the country is in midst of an identity crisis.

The possible choice for the opening ceremony of Aya Nakamura, a super star French-Malian singer whose slang spiced lyrics stand at some distance from academic French, has signed a furore tinged with issues of race and linguistic propriety and the politics of immigration.

Right-wing critics say Ms. Nakamura's music does not represent France, and the prospect of her performing has led to a barrage of racist insults online against her..

The Paris prosecutor's office has opened an investigation.

The outcry has compounded a fight over an official poster unveiled this month : a pastel rendering of the city's landmarks thronged with people in a busy style reminiscent of the '' Where's Waldo? '' children's books.

Right-wing critics have attacked the image as a deliberate dilution of the French nation and its history in a sea of sugary, irreproachable blandness most evident in the removal of the cross atop the golden dome of the Invalides, the former military hospital where Napoleon is buried.

An opinion essay in the right-wing Journal du Dimanche said '' the malaise of a nation in the throes of deconstruction'' was in full view.

The World Students Society thanks authors Roger Cohen and Aurelien Breeden.


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