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French defense minister slams Black Panther movie for ‘deceptive representation’ of troops



A high-profile French politician has slammed Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever movie for “false and deceptive representations” of the European country’s military force.

A scene from the film, released in November, shows French mercenaries brought before an international hearing accused of stealing from the fictional country of Wakanda. A journalist who tweeted the clip this weekend pointed out that the actors in the film are wearing costumes similar to the uniforms worn by troops carrying out Operation Barkhane in Mali.

Operation Barkhane was launched in 2013 with the aim of stemming the advance of jihadist insurgents in the African nation. The campaign came to an end last year after 58 soldiers died during the course of the intervention.

Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu voiced strong criticism of the scene, tweeting on Sunday: “I strongly condemn this misleading and misleading representation of our Armed Forces.”

Noting the sensitivity of the issue, Lecornu added: “I think and pay tribute to the 58 French soldiers who died defending Mali at its request against Islamist terrorist groups.”

According to Bloomberg, an official at France’s Defense Ministry said the tweet reflected the minister’s personal view, adding it is his duty to stand up for French armed forces if there are misconceptions around them. The official added that France had no plans to demand the withdrawal of the movie.

The French embassy in London and Disney—which owns Marvel Studios—did not immediately respond to Fortune when contacted for comment.

The French ministry told news agency AFP that “no revisionism can be allowed about France’s recent actions in Mali: we intervened at the county’s own request to fight armed terrorist groups, far from the story told in the film, namely a French army coming to pillage natural resources.” The agency added that people close to the French minister added he was “angry at seeing the film”.

Relationship with Mali

The minister’s comments come after French military experts said the country’s relationship with the Malian military had been left in “tatters” after Operation Barkhane in the Sahel region.

Elie Tenenbaum, defense specialist at the French Institute for International Relations (IFRI), told the BBC: “The initial aim was to stop the spread of jihadism in the Sahel and to forge a strong partnership with the Malian army. Today that strategic partnership is in tatters… while jihadism extends itself ever wider in the region and roots itself more deeply in society.”

Former Africa reporter, Patrick Robert, summed up the issue in Le Figaro in August last year: “When France is there, it is accused of interference. When it is not there, it is accused of abandonment. Whatever it does, France is wrong.”

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