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POLITICS

France tells the UK to stop ‘giving lessons’ on migrants

After Britain described the record numbers of migrants crossing the Channel as 'unacceptable', France has bitten back. The row over migrants threatens to further escalate tensions between the two countries.

Migrants crossing the Channel close to Dunkirk, northern France. Britain has accused France of not doing enough to prevent such crossings.
Migrants crossing the Channel close to Dunkirk, northern France. Britain has accused France of not doing enough to prevent such crossings. (Photo by Sameer Al-DOUMY / AFP)

France told Britain on Monday to stop “giving lessons” on migrants in an increasingly acrimonious row between London and Paris over the numbers crossing the Channel.

“Britain is in no position to be giving lessons to us,” Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin told Cnews television ahead of talks with his British counterpart Priti Patel later on Monday.

Britain “should stop using us as a punch-bag in their domestic politics,” he added.

The longstanding dispute has intensified in the last days after record numbers of migrants crossed the Channel to reach England from the French coast, with London accusing Paris of not doing enough to stop them.

READ MORE ‘The maximum’: What France is doing to prevent migrant crossings to UK

The tensions have added to a litany of post-Brexit strains between Britain and France that also include a dispute over fishing rights that has threatened to spill over into a full-blown trade war.

In an unusually blunt criticism of France’s neighbour, Darmanin implied it was the fault of the British government that so many migrants wanted to cross the Channel.

He accused British activists based in northern France around Calais and Dunkirk of impeding the work of the security forces.

“I will remind my British counterpart that the NGOs that prevent the police and the gendarmerie from working are largely British NGOs with British citizens who are on French soil,” he said.

And he added: “The smugglers, who organise networks and exploit women and children, are very often based in Britain.”

He also argued that migrants were encouraged to leave for Britain because its labour market relied in part on “irregular workers employed at low cost”.

“If the British changed their legislation very strongly – and they did, but not enough – people would no longer be in Calais or Dunkirk” waiting for a chance to cross the Channel, he said.

“We are the victims of British politics. We must not get this mixed up,” he said.

According to British figures, a total of 1,185 migrants crossed the Channel on Thursday — a new record that smashed the previous daily high of 853 — due to cold but calm weather.

On Friday, three people who tried to cross in a canoe were reported missing. Britain has described the figures as “unacceptable.”

Member comments

  1. Why don’t the Brits just build a wall to protect their borders from illegal immigration like the U.S. has done in some places and at times has even made moves to extend. Seems to me, normally mesures are taken for those entering and not for those leaving a country.

  2. These problems just serve to show how close the UK is to France and how difficult it is to preserve borders that are mostly in the mind. Migration is a major, worldwide problem and no one country can solve that on its own. Canada, for example, was very critical of Europe’s handling of illegal migrants and pushing them back. Until suddenly thousands of South Americans crossed their borders from the US and the authorities were confronted by the same problems as Europe faced earlier. In the US the media were critical of the callous policies introduced by Trump until in the first weeks of the Biden administration tens of thousands of hopefuls crossed the boundary and overflowed all the facilities.
    Countries in the Middle East and Africa should be held accountable for their own population, and made to provide better circumstances for the young. Which means the West should not earn billions selling them arms or our financial havens helping corrupt leaders stow away their stolen billions.
    A spat between the UK and its neighbours is not going to help. It’s all puppetry aimed at their own media, and the UK looking for a scapegoat to avoid the public’s close look at the success of government.

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POLITICS

‘Affaire Mila’: Six convicted for harassing French teen over anti-Islam videos

A French court convicted six people on Tuesday for harassing a teen online over her anti-Islam videos in a case that sparked debate about free speech and the right to insult religions.

'Affaire Mila': Six convicted for harassing French teen over anti-Islam videos

The girl, known as Mila, was forced to change schools and accept police protection due to threats to her life after videos in which she insulted Islam went viral in January 2020 and November the same year.

The court handed sentences ranging from a three-month suspended prison term to four months with an electronic bracelet to the two men and four women, aged 19 to 39.

The six were ordered to pay damages of €3,000 ($3,200) each to Mila.

“Their conviction was necessary,” said Mila’s lawyer Richard Malka, but added that he felt no satisfaction at seeing them sentenced.

READ MORE: What is the ‘Affaire Mila’ and what does it say about France and Islam?

“My only satisfaction would be if Mila were able to lead a normal life… and that is not the case,” Malka said.

In the first viral video posted on Instagram in January 2020, Mila responded to personal abuse from a boy who she says insulted her about her sexuality “in the name of Allah”.

She launched into an expletive-laden rant against Islam along with other explicit comments about Allah deemed highly offensive to practising Muslims.

She published a second video with similar content in November of the same year, after a jihadist killing of French high-school teacher Samuel Paty, who had shown students controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed.

Mila’s lawyer says she received over 100,000 extremely virulent messages in response to the videos, with one person writing that Mila deserved “to have her throat cut”, while others threatened sexual assault.

In July 2021, a French court convicted 11 people for harassment and handed suspended sentences, with some ordered to pay damages of 1,500 euros.

The case has received widespread public attention because it touches on hotly contested issues in France, from cyber harassment to the right to blaspheme, and attitudes to religious minorities.

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