French singer Izia Higelin has walked back her comments about “hanging” President Emmanuel Macron after the authorities opened a probe into her conduct at a recent concert.
“I’m very sorry that it was misinterpreted and taken out of context. Obviously, at no point did I want to incite violence or hatred,” the 32-year-old artist told Ouest-France on Monday.
She claimed that her remarks about the French leader were “an improvised and surreal link between two songs” that “shouldn’t be taken at face value.” She further argued that her words were “not directed at anyone.”
On July 6, Higelin spoke from a stage in the Mediterranean city of Beaulieu-sur-Mer about imagining Macron “hanged 20 meters above the ground like a giant human pinata” and surrounded by a crowd armed with “huge bats with spikes on them.”
The singer’s words followed a wave of unrest sparked by the June 27 death of 17-year-old Nahel Merzouk in a police shooting. Riots and looting have rocked several major French cities since then, while relatives have called for “justice” for the young man who was killed during a traffic stop in Nanterre, a western suburb of Paris.
Xavier Bonhomme, a public prosecutor in the city of Nice, whose jurisdiction covers Beaulieu-sur-Mer, confirmed last week that Higelin was under investigation for “public incitement to commit a crime or offense.”
The singer’s concert scheduled for July 13 in Marcq-en-Baroeul has been canceled by local authorities. Higelin’s remarks about Macron were “extremely violent” and “criminally reprehensible,” the city hall said in a statement on Monday.