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Eva Joly enraged by ‘racist attack’

Norway-born politician Eva Joly, the French Green movement’s presidential candidate, has slammed as “racist” a column in a prominent magazine that appears to mock her French accent.

Eva Joly enraged by 'racist attack'
N4thaniel (File)

Speaking to reporters in Paris on Sunday, Joly said the column in the weekly Le Point magazine was “a racist attack, a form of ostracism.”

She also branded the article by novelist Patrick Besson “symptomatic of the French state.”

“It’s a casual form of racism which seeks to remove from positions of power anybody not born in the right areas or the right territories.”

In his column, Besson depicted a scenario in which Joly had become president due to the sudden deaths of all the other candidates.

The entire column is written from the perspective of a heavily accented Joly, and begins with the greeting: “Zalut la Vrance!”

“He thinks this is of no consequence because it’s about a Norwegian kitted out with a German accent and not somebody from Africa or the Middle East,” said Joly.

Despite her anger at the piece, Joly said she did not intend taking legal action against the author or the magazine.

Joly, who turned 68 on Monday, is best known to the French as a campaigning magistrate against corruption who took on some of France’s biggest business interests during the 1990s as an investigating judge.

Born, Gro Eva Farseth in Oslo, she moved to Paris when she was 20 to work as an au pair.

“In Norway, after high school, lots of young people left to move abroad to discover the world,” she told French magazine Gala in a recent interview. “Paris and the Parisians represented the new wave, a certain way of living and a culture that was rich and passionate. This was in contrast to the Norwegians who were more thrifty and lovers of nature.”

She married the older son of the family that employed her, a medical student, Pascal Joly, and used her middle name, Eva, as it was easier to pronounce in French.

Joly became a magistrate at 38, joining the High Court of Paris as an investigating judge specializing in finance in 1990.

Some of the major corporate interests and personalities she went up against included oil company Elf Aquitaine, well-known business tycoon Bernard Tapie and the Crédit Lyonnais bank. She was subjected to death threats during some of her cases and won admiration for her courage.

Her husband, Pascal, committed suicide in 2001 and Joly left her job in 2002, returning to Norway to work as an advisor on a global anti-corruption and money laundering commission.

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COURT

French court orders Twitter to reveal anti-hate speech efforts

A French court has ordered Twitter to give activists full access to all its documents relating to efforts to combat racism, sexism and other forms of hate speech on the social network.

French court orders Twitter to reveal anti-hate speech efforts
Photo: Alastair Pike | AFP

Six anti-discrimination groups had taken Twitter to court in France last year, accusing the US social media giant of “long-term and persistent” failures in blocking hateful comments from the site.

The Paris court ordered Twitter to grant the campaign groups full access to all documents relating to the company’s efforts to combat hate speech since May 2020. The ruling applies to Twitter’s global operation, not just France.

Twitter must hand over “all administrative, contractual, technical or commercial documents” detailing the resources it has assigned to fighting homophobic, racist and sexist discourse on the site, as well as “condoning crimes against humanity”.

The San Francisco-based company was given two months to comply with the ruling, which also said it must reveal how many moderators it employs in France to examine posts flagged as hateful, and data on the posts they process.

The ruling was welcomed by the Union of French Jewish Students (UEJF), one of the groups that had taken the social media giant to court.

“Twitter will finally have to take responsibility, stop equivocating and put ethics before profit and international expansion,” the UEJF said in a statement on its website.

Twitter’s hateful conduct policy bans users from promoting violence, or threatening or attacking people based on their race, religion, gender identity or disability, among other forms of discrimination.

Like other social media businesses it allows users to report posts they believe are hateful, and employs moderators to vet the content.

But anti-discrimination groups have long complained that holes in the policy allow hateful comments to stay online in many cases.

French prosecutors on Tuesday said they have opened an investigation into a wave of racist comments posted on Twitter aimed at members of the country’s national football team.

The comments, notably targeting Paris Saint-Germain star Kylian Mbappe, were posted after France was eliminated from the Euro 2020 tournament last week.

France has also been having a wider public debate over how to balance the right to free speech with preventing hate speech, in the wake of the controversial case of a teenager known as Mila.

The 18-year-old sparked a furore last year when her videos, criticising Islam in vulgar terms, went viral on social media.

Thirteen people are on trial accused of subjecting her to such vicious harassment that she was forced to leave school and was placed under police protection.

While President Emmanuel Macron is among those who have defended her right to blaspheme, left-wing critics say her original remarks amounted to hate speech against Muslims.

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