The European Court of Human Rights ruled that Eric Zemmour, a French columnist who was running for president in 2022, was fairly convicted of inciting religious hatred in France. The ruling also says that the French courts did not violate Zemmour’s right to free speech.
Zemmour lost his appeal to the ECHR
Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which focuses on freedom of speech, was not violated, the ECHR stated.
Zemmour asserted during a television debate in September 2016 that Muslims should pick either France or Islam. The far-right politician stated that Islam and jihad are the same and warned against the “Islamization” of entire communities in France.
Zemmour found guilty of inciting discrimination, and hatred against a group of people
Later, Zemmour was found guilty by French courts of “inciting discrimination, hatred, or violence against a group of persons because of their origin or religious identity.” The Cour de Cassation, France’s highest Court, upheld the conviction.
In December 2019, Zemmour submitted an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR).
The ECHR press statement upholds the judgment of the French courts, saying, “The Court decided that the interference with the applicant’s right to freedom of expression had been justified in a democratic society to protect the rights of those which had been at issue in the case.”
The Court emphasized that Zemmour’s claims, which he made on live, prime-time television with the intent to discriminate, were made. At the same time, Eric Zemmour was still bound by his “duties” as a journalist.
Ghaleb Bencheikh, President of the French Foundation of Islam, stated that this EHCR decision highlights a more significant problem in contemporary French society, according to Euractiv. He claimed that the lack of representation of experts in Islamic culture in French media, the failure to address the “colonial question” after the Algerian War ended in 1962, and the “dark decade” of terrorist attacks in France carried out by radical Islamists between 2012 and 2022 caused the rise in anti-Islamic sentiment.
According to a parliamentary investigation, there were 213 violent acts committed against Muslims in France between 2019 and 2021, a 38% rise.
Zemmour’s political affiliation
Eric Zemmour, a far-right presidential candidate in France in the 2022 election, suffered a severe decline in support after making several distasteful remarks about the Russian invasion of Ukraine and constantly expressing appreciation and affection for Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia.
The populist and anti-Muslim politician declared his admiration for Russian dictator Putin and opposed accepting Ukrainian refugees. As a result, his popularity declined. Ties with Putin became toxic even for the far-right politicians in Europe.
Later, Eric Zemmour, a French far-right presidential candidate, claimed that Ukrainians with familial ties to France should be granted visas rather than people fleeing problems in Arab Muslim countries.
Zemmour declared on Twitter in September 2020 that he supported a “Russian alliance” and regarded Moscow as “the most trustworthy ally, more than the United States, Germany, or Great Britain.”
Zemmour failed to condemn Putin for the war against Ukraine
Despite his condemnation of the invasion of Ukraine, Zemmour has persisted in holding the West responsible for not taking Russian President Vladimir Putin’s security concerns seriously.
Voter surveys conducted after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine showed a decline in Zemmour’s support from 14% to 7%. Eric Zemmour received 7% of the vote in the first round and was kicked off the presidential race.
For the second round, he supported Marine Le Pen, another far-right contender with connections to the Kremlin.