The Paris court distributes suspended penalties, fines in cases of online abuse.
A French court has convicted 11 of the 13 people accused of harassing and threatening a teenage girl for her anti-Islam online videos.
On Wednesday, the court sentenced the defendants to suspended prison terms of four to six months, meaning they would not spend time in jail unless they were convicted of other crimes, and fined them about $ 1,770 each. .
The accusations came after the 18-year-old girl, known as Mila, was forced to change schools and accept police protection because of threats to her life after her first videos were posted online. in 2020.
The trial in Paris was the first of its kind since France created a new tribunal in January to prosecute online crimes, including harassment and discrimination.
“Social networks are the way to go.” When you pass someone on the street, don’t insult them, don’t threaten them, make fun of them, “said Michel Humbert, the presiding judge.” What you don’t do on the street, you don’t do on social media. “
“I don’t like any religion”
Mila, who was identified only by her name, testified last month in the cyberbullying case, saying she felt as if she had been “sentenced to death.”
She describes herself as an atheist and was 16 when she started posting videos on Instagram and then TikTok, harshly criticizing Islam and the Koran.
She has since become a divided public figure in France, seen by supporters as a symbol of freedom of expression and the right to reprimand, and by deliberately provocative and Islamophobic critics.
“I don’t like any religion, not just Islam,” he said during the trial.
Her lawyer, Richard Malka, said she received 100,000 threatening messages, including death and rape threats, and hate messages about her sexual orientation.
One of them told her she deserved to “have her throat cut.”
The 13 defendants from all over France came from different backgrounds and religions and were just a handful of all the people who watched Mila with online comments.
The others could not be traced.
One of the 13 was acquitted because her post – “Blow it up” – was directed at Mila’s Twitter account, not at the young woman. The court dropped the case against another defendant for defective proceedings.
Macron defends “right to blasphemy”
The issue has received such widespread public attention because it touches on many contemporary issues in France, from the effects of cyberbullying and online hate speech to the country’s laws on freedom of expression and attitudes towards religious minorities.
In a first viral video posted on Instagram in January 2020, Mila responded to the personal abuse of a child who says he insulted her “in the name of Allah”.
She launched into an explosion-laden speech containing comments that would be very offensive to practicing Muslims.
Strict laws of France’s hate speech criminalize incitement to hatred against a group based on their religion or race, but do not prevent people from criticizing or insulting religious beliefs.
President Emmanuel Macron was among those who came to Mila’s defense, saying that “the law is clear” and that French citizens “have the right to blaspheme, criticize and caricature religions.”