• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Man jailed for 'anti-white racist' attack in France

Joshua Melvin · 22 Jan 2014, 13:41

Published: 22 Jan 2014 13:41 GMT+01:00

A man was sentenced this week to four years behind bars for an "anti-white racist" attack on a Frenchman on the platform of a Paris train station. The convicted man was also white.

An appeals court affirmed that the attack at Gare du Nord station in September 2010 was aggravated by racism, overruling an earlier court ruling that it had played no part, Europe1 radio reported.

The victim first laid eyes on his two attackers when they asked him for a cigarette while he was on the platform waiting for a train. When he refused to hand one over he began to be insulted with a second alleged attacker, who has not yet been caught, calling the victim “a dirty white” and “dirty Frenchman”.

He was then set upon by both men and attacked with broken bottles. The victim was left seriously injured.

To French prosecutors, the abuse was not just ordinary insults, the words were a clear sign the beating was racially motivated. The court agreed and followed prosecutors’ recommendations in imposing the four-year sentence, one year of which is suspended.

The defendant’s lawyer Grégoire Etrillard however told Europe1 he is seriously considering appealing the judgement, noting his client was not the one that made the racist comments. 

“This trial was made into something it's not: the judging of racism, not of a man,” he said.

'Anti-white sentiment is thriving in some neighbourhoods in France'

The issue of anti-white racism is a sensitive subject in France. Up until recently it was a concept invoked mainly by members of France's far-right organizations.

However, leader of the opposition UMP party, Jean-François Copé, provoked uproar October 2012 when he claimed “anti-white sentiment is thriving in some French neighbourhoods".

"Some people, of whom many are French nationals, despise other French people because they don't follow the same religion," Copé added.

The UMP leader provoked further ire when he suggested a young boy had been beaten up for eating a French pastry during the Muslim festival of Ramadan.

This court case, however, has thrust the issue into the mainstream.

'Anti-white racism is just like any other form of racism - it cannot be ignored'

Significantly, the prosecution’s stance was supported by the International League against Racism and anti-Semitism (LICRA).

"We are acting just like we would for any kind of racism case, whether it's anti-Semitic or anti-black," Vice president of LICRA Philippe Schmidt told The Local in an April 2013 interview. "We cannot just pull a blanket over our eyes because this is a case of anti-white racism."

"It's obvious that incidents of anti-white or anti-French racism are less common, but that does not mean we have to ignore them.

"It is important not to make this into a political issue, the only principle we have is not to ignore it. In the early 2000s, French politicians made the mistake of ignoring the issue of anti-Semitism, no kind of racism can be ignored," he added.

For sociologist Nacira Guénif, however, the very concept of "anti-white racism" doesn't make sense.

"Racism implies a system of domination which allows the denial of rights, and discrimination. And there is no oppression of whites as a group, in France. What we have is a changing world, in which being white is no longer a privilege," she previously told French newspaper Le Parisien.

Joshua Melvin (joshua.melvin@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
The worst scams to avoid whilst driving in France
A French motorway. Photo: Maelick/Flickr

Don't get caught out by these common ploys gangs of thieves have used to target motorists in France.

Hoax bomb found at Paris Metro station
Photo: AFP

Bomb squad called in to a Paris Metro station after the discovery of a bag with a walkie-talkie antenna and red wires sticking out.

Five key moments in Chris Froome' Tour de France win
The victorious Christopher Froome. Photo: AFP

Here are the key moments that earned Christopher Froome his third Tour de France victory.

Terror attack in Nice
Policewoman's Nice claims leave government in crisis
Photo: AFP

The pressure is mounting on the French government after a policewoman claimed she was pressured to change her report over security measures in Nice on the night of the July 14th attack.

15-hour tailbacks in UK as France heightens checks
The local Kent Police force said there was a 12-mile tailback, which it put down to a “vast volume of holiday traffic”. Photo: AFP

British officials were drafted in to help French border police on Sunday after 15-hour queues built up at the port of Dover due to heightened entry checks.

15 injured in Welsh bus accident in France
The bus ended on its side in a ditch. Two helicopters were dispatched to the site. Photo: AFP

UPDATED: Fifteen people were injured, two of them seriously, when a bus carrying teenagers from Wales rolled over on a motorway in eastern France on Saturday, the local gendarmerie said.

Libya armed groups urge fight against French troops
Dozens of protesters rallied Friday outside the GNA’s former headquarters in a Tripoli navy base. Photo: AFP

Armed groups including Islamists have urged Libyans to mobilise against French and other foreign troops deployed in the country, denouncing their presence as a “blatant aggression”.

EgyptAir flight broke up midair after fire: report
The Airbus A320 was en route from Paris to Cairo when it disappeared from radar over the Mediterranean. Photo: AFP

An EgyptAir flight that crashed into the Mediterranean in May likely broke up in midair after a fire erupted in or near the cockpit, the New York Times has reported.

IMF boss Lagarde to stand trial over $400 million payout
Lagarde will be the third successive IMF chief to face trial. Photo: AFP

IMF chief Christine Lagarde was ordered Friday to stand trial in France over a massive state payout to a colourful tycoon when she was French economy minister, dealing a setback to her stellar career.

Hollande defends minister under fire over Nice attack
The Nice assault was the third major attack on French soil in the past 18 months. Photo: AFP

French President Francois Hollande on Friday defended his government from accusations it relaxed its anti-terror defences after the Euro championships, and announced plans to arm the fight against the Islamic State group which claimed the Nice attack.

Sponsored Article
5 reasons to try dating in Paris with The Inner Circle
Features
Six outdoor bars in Paris you simply must visit
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
The open-air Villette cinema has been cancelled over security fears
Culture
Henri Rousseau exhibition proves huge hit in Paris
National
Frenchman caught trying to sell Nice massacre souvenirs online
Society
OPEN NOW: Here's why you should head to the Paris Plages
Culture
What's on in France: Still plenty to see and do in July
Lifestyle
Treasures of Versailles to go on display in Australia
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
National
How to keep cool during France's heatwave
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Nice attack: What we know so far
National
Nice attacker: Body-building, drug-taking, violent flirt
National
IN IMAGES: Drawings in tribute to Nice attack victims
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Society
Promenade des Anglais: The iconic heart of the French Riviera
France faces more questions after latest deadly attack
National
Why is France the target of choice for jihadist attacks?
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
Nice truck attack: 'Bodies went flying like bowling pins'
Nice attack: Families of missing make pleas on Twitter
Politics
Boris Johnson cheered and booed at Bastille Day party
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Ten reasons not to leave Paris this summer
Ten ways other expats in France drive you mad
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
'Very Stupid' village in France honoured for its silly name
Travel
Ten crazy things to do in France if you dare
Society
Paris: an obstacle course for wheelchair users
Brits ignore Brexit fears to make dream move to France
2,765
jobs available