French authorities have launched an investigation into philosopher Eric Zemmour over a speech on Islam and immigration made at a right-wing convention last weekend.
The Paris prosecutor’s office announced the investigation earlier this week over claims of “public provocation to discrimination, hatred, or violence” after he referred to immigrants as “colonisers” and spoke about the “Islamisation of the streets”, BFMTV reports.
“In France, as in all Europe, all our problems are aggravated by immigration — schools, housing, unemployment, social deficits, public order, prisons — but all our problems are also aggravated by Islam. It’s double punishment,” he told conference attendees.
Some have condemned the speech, including Prime Minister Edouard Philippe who called it “nauseating” and “profoundly contrary to the idea we have of France and the Republic”. However, others on the right have voiced support for Zemmour.
Gilbert Collard, MP for the populist National Rally, wrote: “One may not agree with Zemmour, but must he suffer the unjust tyranny of prosecution, censorship, prosecutors, and verbal straight jackets? No!”
Mayor of Béziers Robert Ménard also came out in favour of the philosopher and stated: “I know Eric Zemmour well. He speaks harshly, but he is absolutely not racist. If we condemn Zemmour, we condemn freedom of expression.”
Marion Marechal Calls for French to Resist ‘Great Replacement’ https://t.co/e5lwcWlJup
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Ménard is no stranger to hate speech prosecutions. In 2017, he was fined 2,000 euros for comments regarding the shifting demographics in Béziers’ schools, having said: “In a class in the city centre of my town, 91 per cent of the children are Muslims. Obviously, this is a problem. There are limits to tolerance.”
“Indeed, if we do not have the right to make this kind of comment and then we must expand to all other things that praise tyrants, dictators, bastards etc.,” he said.
“I can not be an intellectual who says ‘let us complain about people who do not think like us,'” he added.
The conference also saw Marion Maréchal, niece of National Rally leader Marine Le Pen, call for those on the right in France to resist the Great Replacement, a theory used to describe rapid demographic shifts due to mass migration.