Court Fines Seven People for Antisemitic Abuse of Miss France Runner-Up

A French court fined seven people on Wednesday for a torrent of antisemitic abusive comments on social media aimed at the runner-up of the latest Miss France contest.

April Benayoum, crowned first runner-up at the Miss France 2021 competition became the subject of hate messages, mainly posted on Twitter, after expressing that her father is of Israeli origin. The insults included “Hitler forgot about this one” and “Don’t vote for a Jew”.

On Wednesday, during the trial at a Paris court, all seven suspects admitted publishing the abusive messages, but they denied being antisemitic, claiming that these were rather political statements in favour of the Palestinian cause. Nevertheless, the court found that the posts expressed “a rejection of a person because of their origins” or “because of their presumed religion” and targeted Benayoum directly, therefore ordered the seven defendants, four women and three men, to each pay fines ranging from EUR300-800 (USD350-930). Four of them were also told to attend a two-day civics class having, according to the court, not fully grasped the seriousness of their actions – writes the France24 international news network.

While calling the penalties “light”, Jean-Louis Lagarde, a lawyer for the MRAP anti-racism association, said they were still “educational”. The judgement proved that one cannot hide behind social media, and online antisemitic abuse has its consequences. However, the lawyer of Benayoum blames Twitter for not deleting the offensive tweets for days.

“My client believes that Twitter’s negligence is to blame in this case,” Veil said, adding that a separate case had been brought against the platform.