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CRIME

French court fines seven over anti-Semitic abuse of Miss France contestant

A French court has fined seven people for a torrent of anti-Semitic abuse on social media aimed at the runner-up of the latest Miss France contest.

Twitter is the subject of a legal case in France
A case has also been brought against Twitter for being too slow to remove the messages. Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP

April Benayoum, who competed for the Miss France title in December, became the subject of hate messages after saying at the event that her father is of Israeli origin.

The anti-Semitic messages were posted mainly on Twitter and drew condemnation from politicians and associations.

On Wednesday, a Paris court ordered seven defendants, four women and three men, to each pay fines ranging from €300 to €800.

An eighth suspect was acquitted, with the court finding that his tweet did not target Benayoum directly.

During the trial, the suspects all admitted to publishing the messages, but denied they were anti-Semitic, with some arguing they were making a political statement defending the cause of the Palestinians.

But the court found that the posts expressed “a rejection of a person because of their origins” or “because of their presumed religion” and that they targeted Benayoum directly.

The seven were also told to pay €1 in damages to the contestant and to several associations against racism and anti-Semitism that had joined the plaintiffs.

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.

While calling the penalties “light”, Jean-Louis Lagarde, a lawyer for the MRAP anti-racism association, said they were still “educational”.

The judgment showed that “you can’t hide behind the internet, or behind Twitter”, he said.

Benayoum’s lawyer Jean Veil said he blamed Twitter itself because the messaging platform had allowed the offensive tweets to remain visible for several 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.

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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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