Trial for hate speech of a probable French far-right candidate opens

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PARIS (AP) – A far-right television expert expected to run for the French presidency is on trial on Wednesday for allegedly inciting racial hatred with his comments on unaccompanied migrant children.

PARIS (AP) – A far-right television expert expected to run for the French presidency is on trial on Wednesday for allegedly inciting racial hatred with his comments on unaccompanied migrant children.

Eric Zemmour, who has already been convicted twice for hate speech, is on trial for “public insult” and “incitement to hatred or violence” against a group of people because of their ethnic, national, racial or religious.

The essayist and commentator on former political talk shows is expected to announce his candidacy for the French presidential election in April soon. Adopting an attitude similar to that of former US President Donald Trump, Zemmour finds a fervent following for his anti-Islam and anti-immigration slap at the start of the race.

Zemmour was previously convicted of inciting racial hatred after justifying discrimination against blacks and Arabs in 2010, and inciting religious hatred for anti-Islamic speech in 2016. He was respectively ordered to pay legal costs and an amount of 5,000 euros ($ 5,660) fine.

The trial opens on Wednesday relates to comments he made in September 2020 on French news channel CNews about children migrating to France without parents or guardians. If found guilty, he faces a sentence of up to one year in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros ($ 51,000).

“They’re thieves, they’re murderers, they’re rapists, that’s all they are. We have to send them back, ”Zemmour said.

“These people are costing us money and in addition, most of them are criminals, thieves etc. from Morocco, Pakistan and Chechnya,” he said.

Zemmour was not present Wednesday at the Paris court, where he was represented by his lawyer. The verdict is expected to be delivered at a later date.

The chairman of the board of Canal +, parent company of CNews, Jean-Christophe Thiery, is also on trial in this case, as legal manager of the television show.

The civilian plaintiffs in this case include several local councils representing “departments”, the administrative divisions responsible for managing child custody.

“We refuse that these remarks are trivialized and target unaccompanied foreign minors who come to seek protection in France, as well as all those who work to help them as best as possible”, declared the departmental council of Seine-Saint-Denis, north of Seine-Saint-Denis. Paris, said.

Anti-racist groups that have filed a formal complaint, including SOS Racisme, the League for Human Rights and the International League Against Racism and Anti-Semitism, are also participating as civilian complainants.

Zemmour is also set to stand trial for “racial insult” after telling another television expert, Hapsatou Sy, that his first name was “an insult to France”. Sy has filed a formal complaint. No trial date has been set.

Zemmour has repeatedly stated that he wants to prohibit parents from giving their children foreign names, much like a 1803 law limiting the choice to typical French names, mostly of Christian origin. In another anti-Islam commentary, he said this would be a way to ban Muhammad’s name.

Zemmour was also tried in several other cases, where he was acquitted.

In February, a Paris court acquitted Zemmour of a charge of challenging crimes against humanity – illegal in France – for having supported during a televised debate in 2019 that Marshal Philippe Pétain, head of the collaborationist government of Vichy during World War II, had saved the Jews of France from the Holocaust.

In its verdict, the court said Zemmour’s comments denied Pétain’s role in the extermination. But in acquitting Zemmour, he said he spoke in the heat of the moment.

Yet in recent weeks Zemmour has repeated similar comments and lawyers challenging his acquittal plan cited this point as evidence when their appeal heard in January.

Sylvie Corbet (), The Associated Press



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