The youngest member of France’s new government is a self-taught digital guru from a poor immigrant family. He talks about how his Arab name harmed his CV, working in a call centre and how he foiled the cyber attack that threatened En Marche’s election hopes
At a crowded market in the shadow of towerblocks in north-eastern Paris, shoppers gather to take selfies with a smiling, slightly shy, young man in a business suit. “Mounir! A photo with my granny!” shouts one young woman, pushing forward an old lady in north African dress for a hug. “My daughter needs work experience, what do you suggest?” asked a father from the 10th floor of a high-rise, proud of the first child in the family to go to university.
Mounir Mahjoubi, 33, is the youngest member of France’s new government and part of Emmanuel Macron’s inner circle. He is the computer brains and digital campaigner whose online strategy helped the independent centrist Macron secure a decisive presidential election win in May, and who worked to stem a vast hacking attack that hit the final days of the campaign. He is now being held up as one of the faces of the “Macron landslide” – a newcomer to parliamentary politics well-placed to win a seat in the final round of National Assembly elections on Sunday, when the president’s new centrist movement, La République En Marche, is on course to win one of the biggest majorities in the modern French state.