A French court has convicted 11 people of harassing and threatening an Islamophobe over her anti-Islam online videos.
Al Jazeera reports that the court on Wednesday sentenced the defendants to suspended prison terms of four to six months and fined them about $1,770 each.
The prosecutions came after the 18-year-old, known as Mila, was forced to change schools and accept police protection due to threats to her life in the wake of her first videos being put online in 2020.
“Social networks are the street. When you pass someone in the street, you don’t insult them, threaten them, make fun of them,” said Michel Humbert, the presiding judge. “What you don’t do in the street, don’t do on social media.”
Mila testified last month that she felt as though she had been “condemned to death”.
She describes herself as an atheist and was 16 when she started posting videos on Instagram and later TikTok, harshly criticising Islam and the Quran. “I don’t like any religion, not just Islam,” she said during the trial.
Her lawyer said she received 100,000 threatening messages, including death and rape threats, and hateful messages about her sexual orientation.
The defendants from around France came from various backgrounds and religions and were but a handful of all the people who targeted Mila with online comments. The others could not be tracked down.
President Emmanuel Macron was among those who came to Mila’s defence, saying that “the law is clear” and French citizens “have the right to blaspheme, to criticise and to caricature religions.”
The controversy began on January 18, after Mila did a live broadcast on her Instagram account. After speaking about her sexuality she was called a “dirty lesbian” by a Muslim commenter.
In response, Mila posted an attack on Islam. “I hate religion. The Koran is a religion of hate,” she said, before using stronger words to attack Islam. “I am not racist. You cannot be racist towards a religion. I said what I thought, you’re not going to make me regret it.”
Supporters defended her right to attack Islam, and the hashtag #JeSuisMila (I am Mila) started trending in France. Opponents hit back with the hashtag #JeNeSuisPasMila.
Mila’s cause has been embraced by the far right. National Rally leader Marine Le Pen said Mila had “more courage than the entire political class in power for the past 30 years.”