13 On Trial Over Threats to French Islam-Critical Teen

Mila, a French teenage girl placed under police protection arrives with her lawyer Richard Malka (R) for the opening hearing of the trial of the so-called "Mila case", on June 3, 2021 at Paris' courthouse, where thirteen people face charges of online harassment and in some cases death threats against …
BERTRAND GUAY/AFP via Getty Images

Thirteen people are on trial in France for their roles in the massive harassment campaign of a French teen critical of Islam that saw at least 100,000 hate messages sent to her.

The trial for the thirteen defendants began this week on Wednesday in the Paris criminal court, with several in the case accused of sending death threats to a French teen identified as Mila, who released a video critical of Islam on social media in January and November of last year.

The incident, which became known in France as the “Mila Affair,” has led to so many threats against the teen that her lawyer Richard Malka stated that she was forced to be under police protection 24 hours a day, broadcaster Franceinfo reports.

“This is the first time in the history of this country, that a young woman of this age is subject to police protection 24 hours a day,” Malka said and added, ” Never in the history of this country has a young girl received 100,000 hate messages, obviously with a sexist, homophobic connotation.”

Malka stated that Mila has received graphic death threats since publishing her first video, including some referencing the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty, who was killed by a Chechen refugee last October after showing cartoons of Mohammed to his class.

The lawyer noted that those threatening Mila were not always religious fanatics or criminals but often people between 18 to 20-years-old with no criminals records at all and said many were shocked that the threats led to police searches and arrests.

“We cannot continue to accept this savagery. To think that as it is on social networks, it is normal. They invoke their freedom of expression. For them, freedom of expression is: ‘We cannot criticize God‘, but on the other hand we can send death threats,” Malka said.

“This message must be conveyed: blasphemy is legal in France and there is no threat of death allowed, even on social networks. This can lead you to searches, police custody, criminal records,” he added.

After her first video, Mila was initially under investigation herself over allegations of hate speech but French prosecutors eventually decided to drop any case against her.

 

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