A French court has initiated legal proceedings against a far-right magazine after it published a racist slur against the country's black justice minister Christiane Taubira.

Taubira, who last month was compared to an ape by a party member, was the subject of a cover feature published by far-right magazine Minute, with the headline: "Clever as an ape, Taubira gets her banana back".

Taubira, 62, born in Cayenne, the capital of racially divided French Guiana, has been subjected to monkey taunts and other racist abuse since she was nominated Minister of Justice earlier this year.

After the latest abuse, French PM Jean-Marc Ayrault said he asked public prosecutors to "investigate whether these facts may constitute a public offence of racially motivated insult".

Also Interior Minister Manuel Valls announced he was assessing possible legal action to withdraw copies of the magazine

"We cannot let this pass," he said. "This is not just Taubira who has been attacked for her colour. It is the Republic, it is France and its values that are under attack."

The Socialist Party also demanded the seizure of all the magazine's copies, while the Union of Jewish Students of France (UEJF) has demanded legal action for incitement to racial hatred.

"It is urgent to stop this escalation of hate speech. Criminalising this publication is an important step," Jonathan Hayoun said.

SOS Racism, a local NGO, said that the new racial baiting "confirms that insulting the minister of justice was not an isolated act."

In October, France's far-right Front National (FN) party suspended a mayoral candidate after she compared Taubira to a monkey.

The racist epithets against her echo the xenophobic slurs against Italy's first black minister, Cecile Kyenge, who is of mixed Italian and Congolese origin.