French election candidate Eric Zemmour found guilty of hate speech

The far-right polemicist has been fined €10,000 for comments he made about unaccompanied migrant children

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Presidential election hopeful Eric Zemmour has today (January 17) been convicted and fined €10,000 by a Paris court for inciting racial hatred after describing unaccompanied migrant children as “thieves,” “rapists” and “murderers.”

Mr Zemmour, 63, who made the comments during a ‘Face à l’info’ programme debate on CNews in September 2020, will appeal the decision, his lawyer Olivier Pardo said.

Mr Zemmour took to Twitter to criticise the decision, describing it as “an ideological and stupid conviction” and saying that there was an “urgent need to drive ideology out of the courts.”

“Every day this system suppresses freedom of expression and democratic debate a little more,” he added.

“The truth is that these ‘isolated minors’, who are often neither minors nor isolated, are characterised by their improper presence in our territory and their strong propensity for delinquency.”

He also argued that he could not be inciting racial hatred as “in no way do these immigrants constitute an ethnicity, let alone a race. It is therefore impossible to be racist towards them.”

During the CNews debate, Mr Zemmour had responded to a question about a recent knife attack by a young, radicalised Pakistani immigrant by claiming: “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. It is a permanent invasion.”

Mr Zemmour will also have to pay damages to several anti-racism organisations, including SOS Racisme and Ligue des droits de l’Homme.

“The limits of liberty of expression have been crossed,” said Camille Viennot, representative of the public prosecutor’s office, who made reference to “contemptuous, outrageous comments,” which reflected a “violent rejection” of and a “hatred” for the immigrant community.

The managing editor of CNews was also fined €5,000 for the comments made during the debate, with the plaintiffs arguing that “hate speech” is the basis of the channel’s “business.”

Mr Zemmour has already been convicted of inciting racial hatred twice in the past

Today’s judgement came as the former political pundit came under fire for remarks he made about disabled children last week.

Read more: Zemmour sparks outcry in France with ‘special needs schools’ remark

Mr Zemmour announced his candidacy for the presidential election in April in November. The most recent poll of voting intentions by research firm OpinionWay gave him 12% of the vote in the first round, not enough to qualify for the second.

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