The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that the verdict of “incitement to discrimination” reached by the French judiciary against Éric Zemmour, the political journalist turned presidential candidate, did not violate his freedom of expression.
Following a conviction by a Paris court over comments he made during a 2016 television appearance where he described some Muslims living in France as “colonizers” and “invaders” endeavoring to “Islamize” French territory, Zemmour, the leader of the national Rightist Reconquête party, filed a complaint with the ECHR against the ruling, the Paris-based newspaper Le Figaro reports.
On Tuesday, December 20th, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) dismissed the complaint, ruling that decisions made by the French courts were justified.
In its decision, the Strasbourg-based court said: “The interference with [Zemmour’s] right to freedom of expression had been necessary in a democratic society to protect the rights of others which had been at stake in the case.”
Zemmour, who previously ran as a presidential candidate in France’s latest elections, made the remarks on 16 September 2016 during an interview on France 5’s television program C à vous as a part of his promotion of his book A Five-Year Term for Nothing.
He said that he believed Muslims had to be presented with “the choice between Islam and France” and that France had been living “for 30 years under an invasion,” noting that “in countless French suburbs where many young girls are veiled” was a “fight to Islamize [the French] territory,” a “jihad.”
For that, in June of 2017, Zemmour was fined €5,000 for incitement to discrimination on grounds of origin and religion. However, following an appeal, a court in Paris reversed parts of the verdict and reduced the fine to €3,000.
In its verdict, the ECHR emphasized that Zemmour, as a journalist and public figure, had “duties and responsibilities” and was conscious of the consequences of his words on the television show.