Hate speech trial against French far-right expert Zemmour
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Paris (AFP) – French far-right expert Eric Zemmour, who is due to run for president next year, was tried on Wednesday for racist hate speech over a televised tirade against unaccompanied migrant children.
He told CNews in September last year that migrant children were “thieves, killers, rapists. That’s all they are. We should send them back.”
The 63-year-old did not appear in person, saying in a statement that he refused “to accept that a political debate takes place in a courtroom.”
Even if convicted, he would almost certainly appeal, and his electoral prospects likely wouldn’t suffer, as his contempt for “politically correct” speech is part of his appeal.
About twenty members of his support group “Generation Z” gathered in front of the courthouse in Paris and unfurled a French flag.
The case was “nothing more than another attempt to intimidate me”, said his statement under the headline “they will not shut me up”.
The journalist, author and television expert has already been convicted twice for hate speech and has been investigated a total of 16 times for his inflammatory comments on immigration and Islam.
On Wednesday, in court, the prosecution denounced what it called “contemptuous and scandalous” remarks by Zemmour and demanded a fine of 10,000 euros.
“The limits of freedom of expression have been crossed,” said Manon Adam, demanding that the fine be set at 100 euros per day for 100 days, with the possibility of imprisonment if it was not paid.
For the defense, lawyer Olivier Pardo argued that Zemmour was developing a political argument.
“His thesis, that there should be no immigration,” was a political position, he said, calling for the laundering of Zemmour.
The court will deliver its verdict on January 17.
In his first comments during the CNews debate, Zemmour repeatedly referred to “all” unaccompanied migrant children as thieves, killers and rapists, but later admitted that “not all” were criminals afterwards. the incentive of a presenter.
He was speaking days after a Pakistani attacked two people with a meat cleaver in the former offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which had recently republished cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
The 25-year-old attacker, who was unaware that the magazine had changed location, had arrived in France with false papers to seek asylum as an isolated minor.
Immigration is a major theme of early presidential campaigns, with Zemmour and other right-wing candidates vowing to tackle fraud in the asylum system and the difficulty of returning people if their applications are rejected.
In 2011, he was fined 10,000 euros ($ 11,300) for claiming on television that “most drug traffickers are black and Arab”. In 2018, he was sentenced to 3,000 euros for stigmatizing remarks about a Muslim “invasion” of France.
Polls have shown an increase in support for him over the past two months, with some in late October putting him ahead of veteran far-right leader Marine Le Pen.
In the latest polls before the first round of the April 10 elections, he won 13-15%, with Le Pen at around 18% and President Emmanuel Macron at around 25%.
Macron is set to win the second round regardless of his opponent, but analysts warn the election remains highly unpredictable.
© 2021 AFP