Uproar over Carla Bruni's outspoken attack on Italian PM's Obama suntan 'joke'

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London, Nov 10 : French first lady Carla Bruni has raised a fresh controversy by slamming Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for his "suntan" remark about U.S. President-elect Barack Obama.

The pop singer-wife of President Nicolas Sarkozy also denounced France for systemic racial discrimination.

It is feared that her comments may risk France's split from the rest of Europe.

The 40-year-old supermodel has roused many with her outspoken support for a petition in favour of affirmative action in France in the wake of Obama's presidential victory.

And the Italian-born icon of leftwing chic raised many eyebrows when she commented in Berlusconi's joke, in which he had remarked that Obama had an admirable suntan.

"When I hear Silvio Berlusconi ... joke about the fact that Obama is 'always tanned', that makes me feel funny. That will be put down to humour. But often, I am very happy that I have become French," Times Online quoted her as telling le Journal du Dimanche newspaper. runi's comments might have risked embarrassing her rightwing husband, who is seeking Berlusconi's support for a pan-European initiative to rescue the world economy.

The lady in question also condemned France's failure to integrate its big population of black and North African immigrants.

She has even backed a manifesto, called 'Yes We Can', by a campaign for affirmative action, against the failure of mainstream France to offer equal job opportunities and education to the descendants of non-white immigrants.

"Power (in France) has often had the same face: that of men who are white and ageing. That is why I can identify with this appeal. Without political measures we will be waiting too long," she said.

France has Europe's biggest Muslim population.

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