French court acquits Idriss Sihamedi of cyber harassment

Idriss Sihamedi

The founder of France’s biggest Muslim charity has been cleared of cyber harassment by a court in Paris.

Idriss Sihamedi, the founder of BarakaCity which was recently closed down by the French authorities, was on trial for allegedly harassing an ex Charlie Hebdo journalist and anti-Islam activist, Zineb El Rhazoui, on Twitter.

Following the verdict Sihamedi promised to sue the Interior Minister, Gerald Darmanin, who closed down BarakaCity largely based on the tweets.

On Friday the Paris Criminal Court said the tweets did not amount to cyberstalking and there was “no evidence of the effective deterioration of the conditions of life of Ms Zineb El Razhoui.”

“In terms of harassment, repeated behaviour must have had a certain and direct impact on the lives of others,” the judge said, adding that El Razhoui had herself exchanged a private message with the defendant in which she said she was not “destabilised by the insults and the invective addressed to her.”

The prosecution had requested ten months suspended prison sentence against Mr Sihamedi.

BarakaCity was dissolved in November by the Ministry of the Interior after the assassination of history professor Samuel Paty near Paris. Paty had shown blasphemous images of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) to his pupils.

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In its decree of dissolution, the government said it considered that BarakaCity “incited hatred, maintained relations within the radical Islamist movement” and “took pleasure in justifying terrorist acts.”

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal said at the time: “This association and its founder-president hides behind a humanitarian front but spreads antisemitism, death threats and apologises for crimes against humanity. We will continue the struggle against the enemies of democracy.”

Sihamedi subsequently asked President Erdogan for asylum in Turkey and BarakaCity added that they had been shut down “because of their belief in Allah.”

A few months later the French government also officially dissolved the nation’s main anti-Islamophobia organisation.

In his decree against the Collective against Islamophobia in France (CCIF), Gérald Darmanin accused the organisation of having “for several years… consistently conducted Islamist propaganda.”

The CCIF announced that its assets had “been transferred to partner associations which will take over the fight against Islamophobia on a European scale.”

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