French right-wing extremist presidential candidate Zemmour convicted of racist hate speech
A French court on Monday found the far-right presidential jumper Eric Zemmour guilty of racist hate rhetoric for a tirade against unaccompanied child migrants.
Zemmour aroused great outrage in September 2020 when he told the CNews channel that child migrants were “thieves, murderers, they are rapists. That’s all they are. We should send them back”.
Zemmour, a media scientist struggling to reconcile the recommendations of elected officials he needs to compete in the April presidential vote, did not appear in court to hear the verdict, after skipping the trial in November.
The court fined him 10,000 euros ($ 11,400) in daily installments of 100 euros for 100 days. He can be sentenced to prison if he does not pay the sum.
Zemmour’s lawyer, Olivier Pardo, said he would appeal the verdict.
The case was “nothing more than another attempt to intimidate me”, Zemmour said last year, adding that “they will not shut me up”.
The journalist and author has two previous convictions for hate rhetoric and has been investigated 16 times in total for inflammatory statements about immigration and Islam.
In 2011, he was fined 10,000 euros for claiming on television that “most drug dealers are black and Arab”. In 2018, he was ordered to pay 3,000 euros for comments about a Muslim “invasion” of France.
His dramatic entry into frontline politics after a career in the media sent waves through the French ruling class in September, making him the most talked about challenger to President Emmanuel Macron.
Like all candidates in the race, Zemmour must collect 500 recommendations from elected officials around the country in mid-March to get his name on the ballot for the two rounds of voting in April.
But the anti-Islamic populist has acknowledged that he risks being expelled unless more mayors and other elected officials agree to support him under a system he has condemned as discriminatory against political outsiders.