French teenager’s rant confirms ‘right to blaspheme’

“Blasphemy is not a crime” in France, President Macron has insisted, after a teenager’s online anti-Islam rant provoked outrage.

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The 16-year-old-girl, known only by her first name Mila (pictured below), criticised Islam in a live broadcast on social media after, she claimed, she was verbally abused by a “Muslim commentator” over her sexuality.

Her comments prompted death threats and her personal information was posted online, including where she went to school.

The girl and her family have been placed under police protection and she has been found a place in another school.

But the event sparked a huge debate in France – a piously secular country – over freedom of speech.

The country has no national blasphemy laws and has a rigidly secular constitution.

The public prosecutor has opened an investigation for “death threats, threats to commit a crime and harassment” against her attackers.

A separate inquiry, into whether she had “provoked religious hatred”, was dropped shortly after being opened, as Mila was expressing a personal opinion on religion that did not target any individuals.

Mr Macron said in a newspaper interview: “In this debate, we have lost sight of the fact that Mila is an adolescent.

“We owe her protection at school, in her daily life, in her movements.”

Mohammed Moussaoui, head of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, said nothing justified death threats, no matter how serious her remarks.

Mila’s cause has been embraced by the far right.

National Rally leader Marine Le Pen said Mila had “more courage than the entire political class in power for ... 30 years”.

The hashtag #JeSuisMila (I am Mila) started trending in France as supporters rallied.

Opponents hit back with the hashtag #JeNeSuisPasMila.