France: 100 million euros against racism and anti-Semitism

Valls, strong measures against racist slander, heated debate

17 April, 13:51

    (ANSAmed) - PARIS, APRIL 17 - France intends to invest 100 million euros in the fight against racism and anti-Semitism, said French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls announcing an ad hoc plan to tackle violence and slander. France is witnessing an increase in anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic attacks in the wake of the terrorist attacks against Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper Cacher in Porte de Vincennes. The plan includes a total of 40 measures encompassing legal provisions, education and the web. Racism and anti-Semitism will become "aggravating circumstances" in case of illegal acts. However, associations upholding freedom of expression strongly oppose the plan. The Socialist goverment of French president François Hollande ruled that racist and anti-Semitic statements shall be repressed like any other crime.

    Up to now such acts were examined within the framework of press-freedom legislation, which, according to French newspapaper Libération "is much slower and technical in its application compared to the penal code".

    However, in the aftermath of January's terrorist attacks, the government is bent on proving that those inciting violence may not hide behind the excuse of freedom of expression. Many anti-racism organisations (Sos Racisme, Ligue des droits de l'Homme) as well as numerous jurists, specialised in press freedom, are opposed to the plan and caution that it may end up multiplying express trials, whereas these matters need careful scrutiny.

    "Paying homage to Charlie Hebdo strenghtening censure is a total aberration" wrote Law Professor Anne-Marie Le Pourhiet on Le Figaro Friday.(ANSAmed).

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