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CRIME

French teacher convicted of anti-Semitism over vaccine protest sign

A teacher in eastern France received a suspended jail sentence on Wednesday for inciting racial hatred after brandishing an anti-Semitic sign at a demonstration over the government's Covid-19 health pass.

Demonstrators hold up placards that read, '#I am Cassandre' during a demonstration on August 14th, refering to Cassandre Fristot who was arrested for her antisemitic sign during a demonstration.
Demonstrators hold up placards that read, '#I am Cassandre' during a demonstration on August 14th, refering to Cassandre Fristot who was arrested for her antisemitic sign during a demonstration. Photo: JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN / AFP.

Cassandre Fristot, 34, was photographed at the demonstration in the city of Metz on August 7th holding a sign scrawled with the surnames of several well-known figures from politics, business and the media labelled “traitors!!!”

Many of those cited had Jewish or Jewish-sounding names such as US financier George Soros, French philosopher Bernard Henri-Levy and former French health minister Agnes Buzyn.

The sign, which also cited President Emmanuel Macron and current Health Minister Olivier Veran, also bore the question “but who?” – a hashtag used by conspiracy theorists to perpetuate the anti-Semitic claim that Jews control the media.

Fristot, a former local councillor with Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Front (now called the National Rally), was suspended from her job as a German teacher in the wake of the picture.

She denied it was anti-Semitic.

The six-month suspended sentence handed down by a court in Metz was stiffer than the three-month suspended sentence state prosecutors had requested.

Fristot was also ordered to pay between €1 and €300 in damages to eight anti-racism groups that joined the case as plaintiffs. She was not in court for the ruling.

Annie Levi-Cyferman, a lawyer for France’s Human Rights League, hailed the judgement as “a victory for everything that constitutes incitement to hatred” and praised the court for not “being fooled” by the sign’s “hidden” message.

The sign, which was widely shared on social media, caused an outcry in the political class and among anti-racism campaigners.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin called it “despicable” and vowed Fristot would be punished.

“Anti-Semitism is a crime, not an opinion,” he tweeted in August.

Over the summer tens of thousands of French people demonstrated against the introduction of a pass requiring people to prove they have been vaccinated against Covid, tested negative for the virus or already had the disease in order to gain entry to bars, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, gyms and other facilities.

In the past two months, however, the protest movement has begun to run out of steam as more people who had resisted getting vaccinated relent and agree to receive Covid jabs.

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CRIME

French police shoot dead knife-wielding man at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport

French Border police at the Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris shot - and killed - man who was wielding a knife in the public area of the airport on Wednesday.

French police shoot dead knife-wielding man at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport

Border police reportedly shot a man with aggressive behaviour who brandished a knife in the public area of the Charles de Gaulle airport outside of Paris, on Wednesday morning, police and airport sources told AFP.

“This morning officers neutralised a threatening individual in possession of a knife at the Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport,” the Paris police department said on its Twitter account.

A source close to the investigation told BFMTV that the man – who was likely homeless – went towards the officers, despite being asked several times to put the knife down. In response, police shot the man in the abdomen, and the individual later died.

The incident took place in the busy, public area of terminal 2F around 8:20 am, when “a homeless man started bothering security agents and border police were called in to remove him”.

Initially the man left while yelling curses but he soon returned and brought out a knife, when one of the officers fired his weapon.

An AFP photographer who witnessed the scene said “a large person of colour brandished something that looked like a knife at the police”.

“He was ordered to stop but kept advancing toward them, and an officer fired a single shot.”

The man was quickly put on a stretcher and evacuated, the photographer said. 

Security forces have been on high alert for terrorist attacks since a wave of jihadist killings that have killed more than 250 people since 2015, often by so-called “lone wolves” who often target police.

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