Paris: France`s black justice minister faced calls to resign for refusing to sing the national anthem during an event to mark the end of slavery, saying it was like "karaoke".
The centre-right main opposition UMP criticised Christine Taubira for refusing to sing the Marseillaise yesterday. The far-right National Front party demanded that she quit her post.
After critics posted remarks on her Facebook page concerning the event at Paris`s Luxembourg Gardens, Taubira hit back saying: "Some events are more a time for reflection than onstage karaoke."
Her comments only generated more outrage from the opposition.
"What is most shocking is that she could justify herself not singing the national anthem by speaking of stage karaoke," said UMP leader Jean-Francois Cope.
"She is a minister. There are certain things one does not say, that one does not have the right to say, and I think I am among millions of French people who are deeply shocked," he said.
National Front leader Marine Le Pen said: "By comparing `La Marseillaise` to "onstage karaoke" and refusing to sing it, Christiane Taubira has revealed her true colours, and those of the administration.
"This unacceptable gaffe is indeed symbolic proof of the highest order of their contempt for France, for its history and its people, who love to sing their anthem, and are proud of it."
Taubira was defended by the Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls yesterday, who said: "The country is bursting with these absurd controversies that waste time and divert our population from essential issues."
Public figures who fail to sing the Marseillaise have been attacked by the far right in the past.
The National Front called for the exclusion of footballer Karim Benzema from France`s national squad after he said: "I cannot be forced to sing the Marseillaise."
Real Madrid striker Benzema was born in France to parents of Algerian descent.