French Senator Fined for ‘Racial Slander’ in Tweet Criticizing Mass Immigration
Le Figaro, May 15, 2023
A French senator was ordered to pay a fine of €1,000 on Friday after a Marseille court ruled that his tweet from July 2021 claiming that “immigration is killing the youth of France” was akin to racial defamation.
Stéphane Ravier, who was a National Rally senator at the time of the tweet before joining Éric Zemmour’s Reconquête in 2022, had posted a photo of a young salesman at a phone store killed with a knife the day before in Seine-et-Marne, accompanying it with the following message: “Theo, 18, murdered yesterday by a Senegalese in #ClayeSouilly. Immigration is killing the youth of France.”
The public prosecutor in Marseille ruled that the crime of racial defamation was well characterized in the message. It had been reported to the prosecutor’s office by the International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism (Licra).
“The juxtaposition of the assassin’s Senegalese nationality and the term ‘immigration’ is indeed aimed at a particular community, the immigrant community, and it even indicates a geographical origin,” said Alain Berthomieu, head of the Albi prosecutor’s office, as reported by Le Figaro.
Mr. Ravier denies all charges of racism, saying that the tweet — which he never removed from the social network Twitter — was a simple political comment in reaction to a “dramatic” news item.
“There is no race, nationality, nor religion denounced, but the consequences of a policy,” he insisted, judging that there was “no designation or will” on his part to “say that all Senegalese or all foreigners are criminals.”
“My tweet is not there to create controversy, it is there to make known my position, which is not new,” continued the right-wing senator, who added that he considered it his “duty” as a politician to “denounce a phenomenon,” namely “the immigration policy (in France) and its consequences.”
His lawyer, Pierre-Vincent Lambert, warned the court that its decision could “send a signal that any negative criticism of immigration should be censored,” which could lead to magistrates being quickly “overwhelmed with procedures.” Describing the elected official as a “sort of scavenger who feeds on current events by always taking the same target,” Alain Lhote, lawyer for the anti-racist association, La Maison des Potes, a civil party alongside Licra and the League of Human Rights, asked the court for a “firm” sentence so that this “toxic language will dry up in the city.”
The decision, which has been taken under advisement, will be rendered on July 7.
Stéphane Ravier is a French politician and former civil servant who has represented the Bouches-du-Rhône department in the Senate since 2014. He previously held a seat in the Regional Council of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur from 2010 to 2016.