French screen star Brigitte Bardot fined for racist diatribe

French actress Brigitte Bardot.
French actress Brigitte Bardot. Photo: AFP
French screen legend turned animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot was on Thursday fined €20,000 by a court on France's Indian Ocean island of La Réunion over a 2019 diatribe where she described its inhabitants as "savages".

Bardot, 87, launched the rambling attack against the inhabitants of La Réunion, one of France’s overseas territories spread across the Indo-Pacific and Caribbean, in response to what she saw as their mistreatment of animals.

Her spokesman Bruno Jacquelin was also fined by the court in the main town of Saint-Denis de la Reunion €4,000 for his role in sending the statement to several media outlets at her request.

Deputy prosecutor Bérengère Prud’homme denounced the “insulting, serious and repeated terms aimed at citizens as a whole, typical of racist insults”.

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Bardot wrote an open letter attacking the islanders for their treatment of animals, describing locals as “degenerate savages”.

She took aim at the island’s Hindu Tamil population for sacrificing goats.

Bardot, who shot to fame in the 1956 film “…And God Created Woman”, has become a controversial figure, and has also been convicted in the past over her comments about Muslims.

France’s then overseas territories minister Annick Girardin told her in a letter at the time after her comments on Le Reunion “that racism is not an opinion, it’s an offence”.

Member comments

  1. It is not freedom of speech that has been restricted, but rather the use of specific words in specific context. Not a single person is telling her what she can or cannot say. But her screed used language that was not the best use of language. Now I speak very little french, but I do know that your language has some very sepcific meanings. I thought that the Academy Francais had very stringent definitions about the utilization of words. The other language that has even more specific words is german. They have specific words for so many different things. So it was not what she said, it was her choice of words. That is unless you believe that french is a very limited and limiting language. Which I do not at all agree with.

  2. A rather over the top verdict. It’s coming to the stage when we will not be able to say anything to anyone without the fear of prosecution.👿

    1. There’s nothing that has escalated since the end of WW2 regarding laws against racist speech. Therefore, there’s no need to be alarmist about the consequences of such judgements. As long as France remains a democracy, racist speech will always be illegal. This is because our freedom ends where the freedom of others begin. This is the basic tenet of democracy that have enabled us to thrive over the past generations, and unfortunately, it is still not respected by all, hence the need for prosecution. You may think that saying something silly cannot have many consequences, but history has repeatedly shown us the power of speech and ideology. Just because things have been much better in our lifetime, it doesn’t mean we can’t quickly degenerate into the old state of affairs if we don’t continue to set the bar high and follow through with them.

      1. What absolute rubbish. Bardot was expressing an opinion about the island as a whole with their attitude towards the way they treat animals which blows your diatribe out of the water. Over the past few years it has become obvious to anyone of a certain age that the freedom to say what one likes has become severely restricted.

        1. Again, I encourage you to think about where one’s freedom begins and where it ends, and how laws exist for the benefit of the collective freedom. Also, I don’t understand what “diatribe” you are talking about. Lastly, “certain age” has nothing to do with the way you view the world. Have a nice day!

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