French presidential candidate Zemmour convicted of racial hatred

Eric Zemmour puts a campaign poster of himself on a wall in Honnecourt-sur-Escaut, in northern France.Statue Bertrand Guay / AFP

It is the third time that Zemmour has been convicted of discrimination and hate speech. This time it concerns his statements on the commercial right-wing channel CNews. There, in September 2020, Zemmour spoke about unaccompanied minor migrants who he says “have nothing to do here, they are thieves, they are murderers, they are rapists, that’s all they are, they should be sent back and they shouldn’t even come.” ‘.

Just like at the hearing in November last year, Zemmour was not present at the verdict. In response to the condemnation, he spoke of an ideological and idiotic condemnation against ‘a free spirit’. He had previously called the case an attempted intimidation. His lawyer said Zemmour will appeal the ruling.

Zemmour’s statements to CNews caused a storm of anger at the time, and the station was fined. Despite this, it continued to give Zemmour plenty of space to spread his provocative message about immigration and Islam. Founded by the French billionaire Vincent Bolloré, the station’s mission is to provide the ‘left-wing’ media landscape with a counterpoint. Zemmour remained a prominent guest there, as a regular face in the daily current affairs program Face a l’info. In September last year, he was finally taken off the channel by order of the audiovisual council CSA because of his political role – in election time the air time must be divided equally between candidates.

Previous convictions

Zemmour has been prosecuted 15 times in recent years, with two previous convictions. That was in 2011, when he was also fined 10,000 euros after saying on television that workers “have the right” to refuse to hire “blacks and Arabs”. And in 2018, when he was sentenced to a fine of 3 thousand euros after making statements about an ‘invasion’ of Muslims in France.

Another case involving the far-right presidential candidate will follow on Thursday. This time it concerns his statements about Philippe Pétain, the leader of the Vichy regime, which collaborated with the Nazis. Zemmour has said that Pétain protected French Jews by deporting mostly non-French Jews – claims that have been contradicted by historians and that have come under heavy criticism.

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