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CRIME

French teacher convicted of anti-Semitism over vaccine protest sign

A teacher in eastern France received a suspended jail sentence on Wednesday for inciting racial hatred after brandishing an anti-Semitic sign at a demonstration over the government's Covid-19 health pass.

Demonstrators hold up placards that read, '#I am Cassandre' during a demonstration on August 14th, refering to Cassandre Fristot who was arrested for her antisemitic sign during a demonstration.
Demonstrators hold up placards that read, '#I am Cassandre' during a demonstration on August 14th, refering to Cassandre Fristot who was arrested for her antisemitic sign during a demonstration. Photo: JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN / AFP.

Cassandre Fristot, 34, was photographed at the demonstration in the city of Metz on August 7th holding a sign scrawled with the surnames of several well-known figures from politics, business and the media labelled “traitors!!!”

Many of those cited had Jewish or Jewish-sounding names such as US financier George Soros, French philosopher Bernard Henri-Levy and former French health minister Agnes Buzyn.

The sign, which also cited President Emmanuel Macron and current Health Minister Olivier Veran, also bore the question “but who?” – a hashtag used by conspiracy theorists to perpetuate the anti-Semitic claim that Jews control the media.

Fristot, a former local councillor with Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Front (now called the National Rally), was suspended from her job as a German teacher in the wake of the picture.

She denied it was anti-Semitic.

The six-month suspended sentence handed down by a court in Metz was stiffer than the three-month suspended sentence state prosecutors had requested.

Fristot was also ordered to pay between €1 and €300 in damages to eight anti-racism groups that joined the case as plaintiffs. She was not in court for the ruling.

Annie Levi-Cyferman, a lawyer for France’s Human Rights League, hailed the judgement as “a victory for everything that constitutes incitement to hatred” and praised the court for not “being fooled” by the sign’s “hidden” message.

The sign, which was widely shared on social media, caused an outcry in the political class and among anti-racism campaigners.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin called it “despicable” and vowed Fristot would be punished.

“Anti-Semitism is a crime, not an opinion,” he tweeted in August.

Over the summer tens of thousands of French people demonstrated against the introduction of a pass requiring people to prove they have been vaccinated against Covid, tested negative for the virus or already had the disease in order to gain entry to bars, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, gyms and other facilities.

In the past two months, however, the protest movement has begun to run out of steam as more people who had resisted getting vaccinated relent and agree to receive Covid jabs.

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POLICE

France charges teen over ‘imminent terror attack’ plot

French authorities have charged an 18-year-old man on suspicion of planning an imminent terror attack with a knife in the name of Islamic State (IS) jihadists, a judicial source said on Wednesday.

France charges teen over 'imminent terror attack' plot

Initial investigations indicated that he planned to carry out a terror attack “in the name of IS, to which he had pledged allegiance,” said the source, who asked not to be named, adding that the man had been detained in the Drome region of southeast France and charged in Paris.

The source added that the man had been detained in the Drome region of southeast France and charged in Paris.

The man, from a Muslim family, had adopted extremist views and was considered a threat, sparking France’s anti-terror prosecutors office (PNAT) to open an investigation on May 19, a source close to the case said.

Police arrested him on Friday and a video of him swearing allegiance to IS was found in his possession.

The source did not say whom he was planning to target in the attack or in which location.

France saw a wave of jihadist attacks from 2015 that left hundreds dead and pushed the country to its highest level of security alert.

There has been no repeat of a mass atrocity in the last years, but there have been several deadly attacks carried out by lone individuals

More to follow

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