France: Zemmour convicted of sedition

Status: 01/17/2022 3:16 p.m

French presidential candidate Zemmour had described migrants as “thieves, murderers and rapists”. A Paris court has now sentenced him to a fine of 10,000 euros for incitement to hatred.

The right-wing extremist French presidential candidate Eric Zemmour has to pay a fine of 10,000 euros for incitement to hatred. A Paris court announced the verdict in the politician’s absence. Zemmour denigrated child migrants in a televised debate.

“You have to send them back”

“They have no business here, they are thieves, murderers, rapists, that’s all they are,” Zemmour said in a TV debate in September 2020 about underage migrants. “You have to send them back and they shouldn’t come here in the first place,” he stressed. When the moderator objected that this probably did not apply to all underage refugees, Zemmour said: “All of them. They have no business here. (…) This is a permanent invasion.”

Prosecutor: “Typical means of racism”

Prosecutor Manon Adam said during the court hearing: “The limits of freedom of expression have been exceeded.” It was not a linguistic slip, because he also confirmed this statement. She accused the provocative politician of “belligerent language” and “generalizations,” “typical means of racism.”

Zemmour’s lawyer: “He’s not a bit racist”

His lawyer Olivier Pardo emphasized that “quick-witted answers” are the norm in such a program. “Zemmour is not racist in the slightest,” Pardo said. He only describes reality “in his own way, sometimes a bit brutal”. He wanted to develop the thesis that immigration was not necessary.

Among the 30 or so joint plaintiffs were anti-racist organizations, but also several representatives of French departments who look after underage migrants.

Already verdicts for sedition

Zemmour already has around 15 procedures behind him. In two cases he was convicted of sedition. The former journalist, who comes from an Algerian-Jewish family, is currently 15 percent in polls, just behind the right-wing populist candidate Marine Le Pen and the right-wing conservative Valérie Pécresse, who each have 16 percent.

According to a survey by the Qatar Institute, 64 percent of respondents believe Zemmour is a representative of the “nationalist and xenophobic right-wing extremist movement.” About 62 percent consider him a “danger to democracy.” For one in five, however, Zemmour stands for a “patriotic right that defends traditional values”.

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