The Islamophobic French presidential candidate Eric Zemmour has been fined 10,000 euros for provoking racial hatred.
Zemmour was convicted earlier today by the Paris Criminal Court after he described migrants as “thieves,” “murderers” and “rapists” on the French news channel CNEWS in September 2020.
Answering a question about a recent knife attack by a young radicalised Pakistani immigrant, he said: “They have nothing to do here. They are thieves, they are murderers, they are rapists, that’s all they are. They must be sent back and they must not even come.”
This is the third time he has been convicted of a hate offence, yet he is still running at 11% in the polls before this April’s election.
Reacting to the verdict on social media, Zemmour complained that his freedom of speech was being restricted and said there was an “urgent need to drive ideology out of the courts.”
But human rights lawyer Arie Alimi said Zemmour’s political agenda is fuelled by hate.
He said: “Why is this decision important? Because behind this media project, there is a political project. It is a hate project, it is a project that tends to stigmatise people according to their origin, according to their confession, according to their race. It is indeed an important decision because he must understand that we will not let it go.”
And Stephane Troussel, from the Socialist Party, said: “So it’s been three times that justice has condemned him for incitement to racial hatred. Three times that justice tells him that whatever he says, racism is not an opinion, it’s a crime! And so now, I say, we must open a debate in French society, particularly on the occasion of these electoral deadlines which will mark the country during this year 2022, to find out whether a multiple repeat offender, convicted of provocation to racial hatred, can be a candidate for an election. This is a question that we will have to ask politically and legislatively.”
On the other hand, Zemmour’s lawyer, Olivier Pardo, insisted the decision was unfair.
“We have just learned of the tribunal’s decision. I contest it with the greatest firmness… This is a diversion. I remind you that migrants are neither a race nor an ethnic group, and therefore prosecuting us for provoking racial hatred did not make sense.”
Mr Zemmour was not present for the original hearing on November 17 and was not present today for the reading of the verdict. The presidential candidate is expected to appeal the court’s decision.