Seven Fined For Anti-Semitic Posts About Miss France Contestant

© AFP 2022 / LOIC VENANCEMiss Provence April Benayoum competes on stage during the Miss France 2021 beauty contest
Miss Provence April Benayoum competes on stage during the Miss France 2021 beauty contest - Sputnik International, 1920, 04.11.2021
The seven defendants were found guilty of public insult although an eighth was acquitted after the court decided it could not be proved that the post in question was aimed at the young woman. The verdict was welcomed by Licra, a French organisation fighting racism and anti-Semitism, but other organisations and activists deemed it too lenient.
A French court has fined seven people for anti-Semitic posts about April Benayoum, a contestant in the Miss France beauty pageant, local media has reported. The defendants (four women and three men) received various fines ranging from $350 to $930. Prosecution requested two-month jail sentences.

Ms Benayoum took part in the beauty contest last December during which she revealed that her father is of Italian-Israeli origin. In subsequent days, the young woman became the target of an abuse campaign with users leaving comments such as “Hitler forgot about this one” or “Don’t vote for a Jew”.

During the trial, the seven defendants admitted that they posted the messages, but denied they were anti-Semitic. Some of them argued that they were an attempt to make a political statement and defend the cause of the Palestinians. The court didn’t side with them. The judge ruled that their posts expressed “a rejection of a person because of their origins” or “because of their presumed religion” and that the messages targeted Ms Benayoum directly.

According to France24, in addition to their fine, each defendant was ordered to pay a euro in damages to Ms Benayoum and to each of the several organisations fighting racism and anti-Semitism, which joined the lawsuit. Four of them, whom the court said didn’t fully grasp the seriousness of their actions, were told to attend a civics class.

The news of the verdict received positive feedback on social media…

Tweet: "Bravo, hope that will prevent further abuse."

…although many users were appalled by the defendants' actions.

Tweet: "The number of a**holes living on Earth is limitless."

Tweet: "We are approaching 2022 and humankind still hasn't evolved at this point."

Others lamented the fact that the court imposed such small fines.

Tweet: "Being anti-Semitic is therefore no more serious than driving at 90km/h on a national road."

Tweet: "The fines are ridiculous. Such small amounts won’t dissuade people from posting such comments. This country is hopeless.”

Others wondered whether social media shouldn't be held responsible too.

Tweet: "A stupid question, but why wasn't the platform's responsibility addressed? If users report to the platform, it would be logical for it to initiate proceedings against the perpetrators, right?"
The last statement echoes that of Ms Benayoum’s lawyer, Jean Veil, who blamed Twitter for allowing such messages to remain on its platform, noting that a separate case has been filed against the social media giant.

Jean-Louis Lagarde, a lawyer for the MRAP anti-racism association, welcomed the verdict, although he noted that the punishment was "light".
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