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ANTI-SEMITISM

Marches against anti-Semitism to take place across France

Marches against anti-Semitism will be taking place in several French cities on Tuesday as people take to the streets at a time when anti-Semitic acts are on the rise in France.

Marches against anti-Semitism to take place across France
File photo: People attend a gathering in Marseille in memory of Mireille Knoll, an 85-year-old Jewish woman murdered in her home in Paris, AFP
Among those demonstrating will be high profile politicians including France's Minister of Education Jean-Michel Blanquer and government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux.
 
Minister for European Affairs, Nathalie Loiseau has also said she plans to march, saying “there is a leprosy that rises in Europe, we must fight it and we will shoot it down”.
 
Former French President Francois Hollande is set to attend as are former Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and the former mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoe.
 
Leader of left-wing political party La France Insoumise Jean-Luc Mélenchon will also demonstrate.
 
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Outrage in Paris over anti-Semitic graffiti on bagel restaurant window

French President Emmanuel Macron will not be joining in the marches however he will be attending the 34th annual dinner of CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish organisations on Wednesday where he will give a speech. 
 
Meetings have been organized in a large number of French cities, including in Paris at Place de la Republique, Nice, Strasbourg, Metz, Pau, Lille, Tours, Limoges, Valence, Perpignan, Marseille, Caen, Saint-Etienne and Avignon.
 
Anti-Semitic acts surged by 74 percent in France, home to Europe's largest population, last year, from 311 in 2017 to 541 in 2018. 
   
“Anti-Semitism is spreading like poison,” said French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner.
 
In two separate incidents in recent weeks, swastikas were drawn on Paris postboxes containing portraits of late Holocaust survivor Simone Veil and the word Juden (German for Jews) was sprayed on the window of a bagel bakery in the capital (see photo above).
 
 
 

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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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