In the United States, we have become pretty accustomed to the freedoms we excise on a daily basis. We are free to practice our religion of choice. We are also free to question a variety of religions, and many journalists spend lots of time exploring religion as a social and theoretical construct. This is a huge part of our freedom of speech. In countries like France, they also enjoy a certain level of freedom when it comes to both speech and the press. Unfortunately, in France, this freedom may be under fire as some Muslim-based organizations push for anyone questioning their faith to the arrested for racist and hate speech.
This type of detention is similar to what some states label as a “hate crime” in the United States except for the fact that this takes things one step further. We are not talking about an obvious case of a hate crime or a racist rant, but instead, the move what some call “jihad by court” to classify anyone speaking against the Muslim faith or Sharia law as being a racist. According to a recent report:
“A silent jihad is under way in France. Spread by a constellation of Muslim organizations allied to powerful (non-Muslim) “anti-racist” associations, “jihad by court” is attacking freedom of press, and freedom of speech. Any journalist, politician, lawyer or intellectual who talks or writes either about Islam or some of its representatives in a critical way, is at risk of being taken to court for “racism” or “outraging a group of people because of their religion.”
The so-called “jihad by court” began in an experimental way in France at the beginning of the century. In 2002, the famous French writer Michel Houellebecq was sued for “incitement to hatred” by Islamic organizations allied to the Ligue des droits de l’Homme, (“Human Rights League”), a prestigious “anti-racist” organization. Houellebecq was sued for having said in an interview with Lire magazine that, “of all existing religions, Islam is the dumbest. We read the Coran, we all collapse.” Houellebecq was acquitted.”
Even though Michel Houellebecq was acquitted during the first “jihad by court” in France, many others have made similar efforts to punish those who speak out against Muslims. In 2007, several extremist Muslim groups joined forces to sue the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo for racism tied to a political cartoon. This case ended in an acquittal as well. The office of the magazine was burned to the ground, and the same organizations sued them in both 2012 and 2013. Even after returning to work after winning these cases, the magazine staff was not left alone by the Muslim backlash. The ultimate attack occurred in 2015 when two Muslim men stormed the office and killed 12 people.
It seems that in many cases, the Muslim groups are relentless in their pursuit of those they label as being racist. For journalist Éric Zemmour, this meant being sued in 2011, 2014, and 2016. HE was accused of “racial incitement” for several pieces of news reporting he published.
Two other journalists faced similar fates as a news report followed their trials:
“Pascal Bruckner, an author and essayist, was sued in December 2015, by the Islamic, “left-wing” associations, Les Indivisibles and Les Indigenes de la République. Bruckner had said on television that the plaintiffs had “ideologically justified the murder of Charlie Hebdo’s journalists”. Bruckner was acquitted in 2016.
In January 2017, all “anti-racist” associations and the Islamist CCIF (Collective Against Islamophobia) sued Georges Bensoussan — an award-winning Jewish French historian, born and raised in Morocco — for racism. He had said on the radio that “in France, in Arab families… anti-Semitism is imbibed with one’s mother’s milk.” He was acquitted, but the prosecutor has filed an appeal.”
Even if these writers are acquitted, the mere fact that they are forced to put out the energy and money to fight these charges can be draining at best. There always seems to be another lawsuit waiting to be filed.
Journalists are not the only ones being hauled into court under the accusation of being racist. There are multiple cases where a politician has been arrested for social media posts that these groups deemed offensive. Véronique Corazza, who is the head of public schools in Paris, was arrested in June of 2017 for a series of tweets on her account.