London, June 5 : Socialists have attacked French justice minister Rachida Dati for her handling of the case of a Muslim woman whose marriage was annulled because she had lied about being a 'virgin'.
According to the activists, Dati, the child of Algerian immigrants, was not up to the job after an angry exchange in parliament in which she lambasted the Socialists over their 'failed' integration policies.
They said she had allowed her personal background to cloud her judgment and demanded she clarify her stance after she initially supported the annulment ruling.
"She's an endearing person but one, unfortunately, who isn't up to dealing with the tasks that have been given to her," The Scotsman quoted Arnaud Montebourg, a senior Socialist politician, as saying.
The case has tapped into a host of French preoccupations, ranging from the values of a secular republic to the integration of the country's large Muslim community.
Another senior Socialist, Martine Aubry, insisted: "In France you can't say 'You lied to your husband, you weren't a virgin so we're going to punish you.' It's archaic."
Dati, whose own marriage was annulled in 1995 after a long legal battle, initially expressed support for the annulment, which she said offered the woman a way out of a union she may not have wanted.
But on June 2, following a barrage of outraged comment, she ordered the public prosecutor's office to appeal.
Attacked by the opposition in parliament, she lashed out, accusing the Socialists of favouring policies that left immigrant girls under the domination of male relatives.