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ANTI-SEMITISM

French judge rules brutal murder of Jewish woman in Paris was anti-Semitic

The brutal murder of an orthodox Jewish woman in France has been declared an anti-Semitic act, a legal source told AFP on Tuesday, after a campaign to draw attention to the crime.

French judge rules brutal murder of Jewish woman in Paris was anti-Semitic
AFP

When Sarah Halimi, 65, died last April in Paris, her family and Jewish groups blamed anti-Semitism.

Kobili Traore, 27, who was arrested the day after the killing, went before the instructing magistrate on Tuesday who finally added anti-Semitism to the charges, the source said.

Traore was Halimi's neighbour and allegedly broke into her apartment in a public housing development in eastern Paris on the night of April 3.

Amid shouts of “Allah Akbar” (God is great), Koranic verses and insults, he beat Halimi before throwing her out of the window.

“I've killed the demon,” he allegedly shouted in Arabic.

The murder stirred debate over anti-Semitism and violence in working-class districts of France.

Despite having taken a large amount of cannabis before the killing, psychiatric testing found he was still responsible for his actions which were “not incompatible with an anti-Semitic dimension”.

The prosecutor then called for anti-Semitism to be added to the charges, as Jewish groups had demanded.

Last month they started legal action demanding a response from the instructing magistrate on whether Halimi was targeted because of her religion.

The affair took a political turn last July when President Emmanuel Macron called for the full facts to be known during a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

France's half-a-million-plus Jewish community has voiced increasing concern with a rise in anti-Semitic acts that have seen thousands of Jews leave for Israel.

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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