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RACISM

Top French socialist and anti-racism campaigner faces probe for anti-Semitic Macron tweet

A top official in France's Socialist Party is facing a legal inquiry after tweeted an image with anti-Semitic overtones against President Emmanuel Macron, sources close to the inquiry said Monday.

Top French socialist and anti-racism campaigner faces probe for anti-Semitic Macron tweet
Photo: AFP

Gerard Filoche, a member of the Socialists' national bureau, also risks exclusion from the party over the Twitter post last Friday night.

It showed Macron with his arms outstretched over the Earth, wearing what appears to be a Nazi armband but with the swastika replaced by a dollar sign.

Behind him are pictures of Patrick Drahi, founder of the French telecoms group Altice; the banker Jacob Rothschild; and the French economist Jacques Attali, as well as American and Israeli flags.

“On the move towards global chaos,” the caption reads, a reference to Macron's En Marche (“On the Move”) movement that swept him to the presidency earlier this year.   

Filoche introduced the image by writing: “A dirty bastard, the French are going to know it,” using a phrase that echoes a well-known anti-Semitic slur in French.

The post was quickly deleted, and Filoche told AFP on Saturday that “I've presented my apologies”.

“What more do you want?” he added, noting that he was one of the founders of the SOS Racism anti-discrimination association.

The image had already been used in February by Alain Soral, a far-right writer and former member of the National Front party.

Filoche is potentially facing charges of “provoking hatred or violence against a person based on his origins or his ethnic, national, racial or religious affiliation,” the source said.

The Socialist Party denounced on Saturday a tweet it called “intolerable, inexcusable and unacceptable” which “tarnishes the basic values of Socialism” and which it considers “a cause for exclusion”.

The French-based International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism (Licra) and the CRIF umbrella grouping of French Jewish organisations have said they will file suit against Filoche, as has Attali.

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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