A far-right weekly has sparked a firestorm of controversy by describing France's new education minister as a "Moroccan Muslim" and calling the appointment of the 36-year-old rising star a "provocation."

Moroccan-born Najat Vallaud-Belkacem is the first woman in French history to hold the office of education minister, the latest step in a brilliant career for the telegenic protegee of President Francois Hollande.

But far-right magazine Minute splashed a picture of her on the cover of its latest issue that hit newsstands on Wednesday with the caption: "A Moroccan Muslim at the national education (ministry). The Najat Vallaud-Belkacem provocation."

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