Sunday, February 20, 2011

French journalist Éric Zemmour has been found guilty of incitement to racial hatred after telling a TV show that drug dealers were mostly blacks and Arabs

The Paris trial sparked a fierce debate over freedom of speech and the extent of France's race problem. Zemmour, a well-known media commentator and columnist for Le Figaro, prides himself on his outspoken defiance of politically correct, woolly liberals. He appeared on a chat show in 2010 when the debate turned to the question of the French police's use of stop and search powers against minorities. He said: "But why are they stopped 17 times? Why? Because most dealers are blacks and Arabs. That's a fact." According to the French model, where everyone is theoretically equal under a state blind to race or religion, it is illegal to count ethnic minorities or race statistics. So there are no figures on the ethnic identity of criminals. Zemmour was also fined for telling another TV channel that employers had a right to turn down black or Arab candidates. Zemmour, whose parents were Jewish Berbers who emigrated from Algeria in the 1950s, told the court he was not a provocateur but a faithful observer of reality who refused political correctness. He was backed by several center-right politicians and some on the left. The state prosecutor accused him of saying that immigration was linked to crime. The Zemmour case has reflected an increasingly uneasy debate over immigration in France as Nicolas Sarkozy tries to win over the conservative vote before his difficult re-election battle in 2012. The Front National, led by its new, young, female face, Marine Le Pen, is scoring its highest ever ratings in the polls after criticizing Muslim street prayers and halal-only restaurants.

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