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RACISM

‘Count your days’: French MP receives vile racist death threat

A French MP elected under President Emmanuel Macron's party revealed on Wednesday she had received a letter containing racist death threats.

'Count your days': French MP receives vile racist death threat
Photo: AFP

The letter, published on her Twitter account, ended with the words “count your days, we are going to take care of you.”

It also made several insulting references to her being African and how “she shouldn't be meddling in the life of the French”

Laetitia Avia, from Macron's Republique En Marche (Republic On The Move) party, said she had filed a complaint with police in Paris.

“I have never been attacked with such racism. And I've been threatened with death. We cannot let this happen,” the MP, whose family are of Togolese origin, told AFP.

She later told French TV that she was the victim of racist abuse on an almost daily basis but never had she been sent “words of such violence that are unrelated to her political commitment”.

“It is me who is being attacked here,” says Laetitia Avia. “It is a black woman, who is present in the media and who dares to represent French” who is attacked here.

Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said on Twitter he was “outraged by the hateful racist attack”.

It comes days after the announcement that a mixed-race teenager was the to play national heroine Joan of Arc for the first time in the French city of Orleans prompted a torrent of racist abuse online.

The 17-year-old, whose father is from Benin and whose mother is Polish, is set to ride horseback through the central city dressed in armour for an annual spring celebration dating back nearly six centuries.

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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