The parents of a nine-year old French boy called Islam are to sue a television company for discrimination after it allegedly refused to let him participate in a game show unless he changed his name.
Angel Productions told the boy that his name “represented a religion that was not liked in France,” according to the parents cited by Le Parisien newspaper.
Islam Alaouchiche had been shortlisted for a place in a youth game show called “In ze boite” (In the box) on Gulli, a children’s channel.
But when he turned up for the final audition with his parents, who have Algerian nationality, they were told by a casting agent: “There’s a problem, your son cannot keep his first name. Being called Islam if you are a boy is like a girl wearing the (Islamic) veil.”
The woman suggested Islam use “another Arab name” such as Mohammed or Sofiane. But his mother Farah refused.
The family left the premises to return to their home near Paris and never heard from the company again.
Angel Productions told the newspaper that “if Islam wasn’t selected, it was not because of his name, but because there were more candidates than places available.”
But the company admitted that “the casting agent did not react as she should have, there were words that hurt a little boy.”
Its director personally apologised to the boy’s family and promised to let him take part in a future edition of the programme. [Link]
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