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French far-right presidential candidate Eric Zemmour convicted of hate speech

PARIS — A French court on Monday found the far-right presidential candidate and essayist Eric Zemmour guilty of inciting racial hatred and sentenced him to a €10,000 fine over comments about child migrants.

The divisive polemicist, who holds two previous convictions for inciting hatred, has emerged as a challenger to the nationalist candidate Marine Le Pen, campaigning on promises of a no-holds-barred attitude to immigration and security ahead of the presidential election in April.

During a program on the French channel CNews in September 2020, Zemmour said “unaccompanied minors have nothing to do” in France. “They are thieves, they are murderers, they are rapists, that’s all they are, they must be sent back.”

The court in Paris found the former journalist guilty of inciting racial hatred and ordered him to pay €100 per day for 100 days, or face going to jail.

Zemmour has said he will appeal the decision, according to a press statement released by his campaign team. “It’s the sentencing of a free spirit by a justice system that has been invaded by ideologues,” he wrote. “Sadly [this type of ruling] has become very routine.”

In 2011, Zemmour was fined for saying on French television that “drug dealers are mostly Blacks and Arabs” and this was why non-whites have their IDs checked “17 times a day.” In 2018, he was fined for inciting religious hatred over comments that all Muslims think jihadists are “good Muslims.”

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